We have heard the phrase before: “A baby’s brain is like a sponge.” From birth to six years old, their brains soak up huge amounts of information from the environment, absorbing everything around them effortlessly, continuously, and indiscriminately. To quote the physician and educator Maria Montessori , “If we compare our ability as adults to that of the child, it would require us 60 years of hard work to achieve what the child has achieved in these first three years.”
This is why the toys you choose for your child is so important. Choose toys that help stimulate his senses and boost brain development, and try to be practical and environmentally responsible. Plastic toys are non-biodegradable, and many cheaper ones are not durable or safe. Here are some classic toys that are worth the investment, segregated by age range.
Infants & Babies (0-12 months)
At this age, the most beneficial toys are those that develop the senses and gross motor skills.
This is very important in the first three months. Mobiles that hang above the crib will give their eyes something to focus on. Later on, a baby gym with hanging toys will motivate him to reach out – thus developing hand-eye coordination.
The Fisher Price 2-in-1 Flip & Fun Activity Gym and the Bright Starts Safari Tales Activity Gym are good options that provide different colors, shapes, and textures.
Soft teethers don’t just relieve teething pain. They feel different textures and practice their grip. Sophie La Girafe is as adorable as it is soft and very easy to clean, while the Nuby Ice Gel Teether Keys are great.
Gross motor skills and logic
Stacking toys helps your child practice hand-eye coordination, and can be used to teach colors, sizes, and and sorting. Try hiding an object under one of the cups and ask him to find it – that also teaches object permanence!
Wooden toys made from natural and organic wood are child-safe and durable. Try Melissa & Doug’s ‘Rainbow Stacker Classic Toy’ – though there are budget options available. This is something your baby will use for years, so it’s best to invest in a toy that will last.
Toddlers (12-36 months)
Toddlers and preschoolers need toys that encourage them to move and use their bodies, practice imagination, and show cause and effect. Many classic toys do just that. Since they’re so simple and multi-functional, your child is free to use them in whatever way they want.
Safety is also an important factor when selecting toys. Toddlers are more active, curious, and are learning to play independently. You want to steer clear of small pieces that can become choking hazards, or toxic materials that they ingest when they put the toy in their mouth.
Here are some classic, organic toys for every budget:
• Wooden toys. Try blocks, cars and trains, play kitchens. Try eco-friendly toy brands such as Hape, Wonderworld, and Ogalala, which also are lead-free and made from organic and sustainable wood.
• DIY playdough. Clay helps your child develop fine motor skills, and can be used in different ways – great for developing imagination and creativity! Make it at home with flour, salt, oil and water, and a few drops of food coloring.
• Kitchen toys. Yes, the best toys can be found in your kitchen! Give them wooden spoons and pots of different sizes and materials and create drums that produce varying sounds.
Kindergarteners (3-5 years)
For kids that are already in kindergarten, offer toys that can challenge them to think and use the skills they are learning in school. Other toys can also teach them how to figure things out on their own, whether it’s putting a puzzle together or how to build a taller block tower. This promotes creativity, patience, concentration and fine motor skills.
• Simple boardgames and card games
• Construction toys like Lego and Duplo
This is an exciting time for your child’s development. Provide the right stimulation – from toys, everyday experiences, and interaction with you and their family – and the right nutrition for brain development, to give him the best start in life.
About The Writer
Georgia Schulze – Del Rosario
Georgia Schulze – Del Rosario is a bit of a cliché – the woman who wears many hats. But to her, that is just what all mothers are – individuals that have mastered the art of multi tasking. The writer and mother of four shares with us her experiences and insights as a working mom, a wife, and what it is like to raise a family in today’s modern world.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.