ASK THE 0-3 TEAM: Buying toys for infants
There are so many toys for infants on the market. What types of toys should I look at this holiday season?
Selecting developmental toys for infants does not have to be stressful or difficult.
But with so many toys on the market today, it is important to realize that not all of them will be appropriate for your child.
You may have noticed that many toys for infants are labeled with a broad age range. It is merely a guideline and is not set in stone. If your 5-month-old seems ready for a toy geared at 6- to 9-month-old babies, it will not hurt your child to go ahead and give it to them. However, with this in mind, you should not completely ignore those age recommendations, either. You need to figure out if the toy will challenge your child without completely frustrating them.
Kids develop at such varied rates, especially during the first few years, which is why toys have such wide age recommendations on them.
In order to select the right toy for your infant, you need to know what skill level they are at. This is even more important if you have a child with special needs or if they have been diagnosed with a developmental delay.
Once you determine what your child’s skill level is, you should figure out what skills you would like to see your baby work on. All babies have their strengths and weaknesses, just like us adults do.
For example, if your 12-month-old is trying to sound out words, then they are right on target developmentally.
However, if they are not walking or at least making an attempt to, then you should consider buying a pull-up toy or something similar that will encourage your little one to make those first steps.
Believe it or not, nearly every toy for infants is educational in some way. Even objects you have around the house that interest your little one will teach them something about the world and help with their development. For example, a simple ball can teach your child how to grasp.
As they get to be older infants, they will develop their motor skills further when they attempt to roll the ball themselves and catch it when it is rolled to them.
The final and most important tip when selecting developmental toys for infants is to make sure it is something your child will enjoy playing with. There is no use in buying a toy that will promise to help enhance your child’s development if they have no interest in it.
Even though a toy may be rated for infants, make sure that there are no pieces that could break or become choking hazards. Also avoid toys that could have lead paint in them.
Using the above tips, you can be confident when you are buying toys for your baby. If you have any doubt when selecting developmental toys for infants, ask your pediatrician for recommendations.
Submitted by: Jocelyn Debick
Jocelyn Debick is the children’s services associate director at accessAbilities. She is the mother of three teenagers and has worked in the early childhood field for over 20 years.