Nowadays our children have plenty of early childhood toys to choose from in the market and it is quite a challenge for parents to figure out which one to buy. Early childhood toys play a very important part in children’s development. In this article, we have come out with the age-appropriate, best choices in baby toys and the benefits. Take a look!
Early Childhood Toys
Early childhood toys have evolved, more functional than toys from our previous generation. They are not just something to distract the children while their parents are busy with household chores. Toys are now, designed in more functional, not only attractive but will help to spark off creative thinking or even as learning tools.
Beware of giving small toys that are less than 2 inches to children less than 3 years old, as these small sizes toys will get stuck in their throats and cause choking hazards.
Babies (0-6 months old)
Babies in this age group will spend most of their time sleeping. Sleep is important for babies growth, they will spend about 16-18 hours a day sleeping during the first 3 months and reduced to 14-15 hours a day after 3 months. The rest of the day, they will be awake to get feed, and gazing around. That’s when toys with certain sounds such as lullabies, and nursery rhymes, etc, and the colorful ones are able to capture their attention.
Their eyesight may not be yet developed fully, but they are able to see blurred images, detect movement after birth and they will get attracted by bright and colorful toys. Here are some good early childhood toys for babies from 0-6months. For examples,
- Rattles. You may use rattles that make some noise to check on your baby’s hearing and eyesight once in the while. If they move their head slightly towards the sound, gazing the movement, that’s mean babies are able to hear and see. You also can try wrist or ankle rattles, that will make sound when they move their hands and legs.
- Find toys with a mirror attached to it, let them look into it and amuse themselves with.
- Babies will grow older and you may introduce toys that he is able to grab and make sounds. Large rings, squishy toys, teething toys, soft toys, and textured balls can be ideal toys for them.
- Cloth books with colorful images, and their inner plastic sheet that able to make some noise when they turn pages, able to stimulate baby’s sensory function, and eye-hand coordination. This can be a good start to let babies get interested in books too.
Babies (7-12 months old)
Babies in this age group will become more mobile and able to see further and clearer. They will start to sit up, crawl , cruise along while holding on to a furniture and stand unsupported. Most babies will enjoy trying to find hidden objects, putting things in and out of containers.
- Stacking toys. Anything that can pile up like stacking cups or blocks are appropriate for children at this age. They are great toys to introduce when your baby is able to sit up on the floor and play.
- Building blocks or cubes. Let the little ones start building their own masterpiece!
- Push and pull toys. They will begin their walking milestone soon. Let them use a push and pull toy to learn how to walk, can be a great idea!
- Tunnels to let them crawl in.
- Teething toys. It can help to relieve teething discomfort while chewing on them during their teething period.
- Soft toys or cuddly toys. Let them cuddle to reduce their anxiety due to separation or night fear.
Some of these toys are open-ended toys, which can be played with in more than one way. They are suitable for kids of all ages. Only the design and function will be varied according to the age of the children.
1 year old babies
When babies hit 1 year of age, they can understand more things and love exploring new things. Play at this stage will largely focus on sensory exploration and motor development. Therefore, toys with different textures will help the little hand to learn and explore the world better. Sometimes, a ride-on toy can be fun too.
- Babies love bubbles! Bubbles making toys can be a great toy during their bath time. They enjoy to see little bubbles appear and they will be laughing out loud when they pop them. This bubble making toys are the reason why babies love bath time. It can be a good learning tool to help them explore cause and effect too.
- Soft toys. Who can resist cute little animal stuffed toys? These type of toys are soft and cuddly, can be used to comfort babies, can be good companions when parents are not around, when they sleep in the bed, walking at the park, shopping center, or even when you send them to day care center.
- Texture and colorful balls. One year old babies may not be able to grip ball properly, but it is a good start to help them learn gripping, throwing and rolling balls back and forth. They will get better with practices.
- Ride-on toys like a push wagon. Babies will be very excited sitting in a ride-on toy, and roaming around the park.
- How about a drawing board? Teach your kid to hold the pen and start to scribble!
- Animal figures. Let them have animals figures that look real. At the same time, you can help babies recognize different animals. These animal figures also can be used as imaginative play too.
- You can try a hammering or pounding toy. Whenever they hit a object with a hammer or wooden stick, it will create a sound. It will help with the eye-hand coordination, focus and understanding of object permanence.
2-3 year old toddlers
They like all sorts of activities that are able to test their physical ability like walking, jumping, running, rolling, and climbing. You can also consider some outdoor toys such as a slide, swing, a tricycle, a rocking horse, and a big giant toy house! Here are some toy choices for their indoor and outdoor play. For examples,
- 4-12 pieces of puzzles
- Shape sorter. They learn about different shapes, sizes and colors along the way.
- Sand toys with different castle mould sizes and construction vehicles , let them build their own castle! They love scooping sand in and out of containers, to promote their motor skill and eye-hand coordination.
- Ride on toys, they love roaming around the park.
- Building blocks.
- Clay or playdough. They can use their imagination to create various shape and sizes of creatures!
- A play tent. Kids love to have their own space to play and sleep. How about a play tent or a toy house? You will be surprised that they are able to play in a play tent or toy house for hours!
Benefits of play during early childhood year
Play is a crucial part of brain development in their first 3 years. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play enhances the structure and function of the brain, it helps to nourish executive function, helps pursue goals and ignore distractions.
Some early childhood toys are useful for their physical fitness. Living an active lifestyle can prevent them from getting sick easily and becoming obese.
Sometimes, early childhood toys can promote their social skills – they learn about sharing, cooperating, collaborating, and compromising with others.
Early childhood toys are able to help children to stay focused and remember things they have experienced. Every failure they made, will trigger their creative thinking. Trial and error will also help them with problem-solving skills.