Monday, December 28, 2009

Making the Most of Your Baby's New Holiday Toys

Over the last few weeks, we've celebrated several gift-giving holidays and babies all over the world have received new toys, blankets, clothes, books, and other gifts from well-intentioned friends and family. My children were babies more than 20 years ago and I am amazed how many toys today move, spin, flash, blink, and sparkle. Most of them seem to make endless electronic noises. Thank goodness for the on/off switch! Given that many parents are looking at shiny new toys on shelves and in boxes these days, we thought we would share some ideas on how to make the most of these gifts while interacting with your baby.

Eight Tips for Making the Most of New Toys
  1. Follow age recommendations. These days, toys are clearly marked by age group. The age groups are based on the typical abilities and behaviors of babies at each age. Even if you think that your baby is advanced (and we know you all do!), you might find that your baby becomes frustrated or bored with a toy if she doesn't have the skills needed to play with it.

  2. Check for hazards. Make sure that your baby's toys are not small enough to be a choking hazard and that they can't break apart into small dangerous pieces. Also, you'll want to check the Internet to make sure the toys have not been recalled for any reason.

  3. Let your baby use all of her senses. Remember that young babies learn best when they can use all of their senses. Babies are typically interested in toys made of bright primary colors but most babies want to do more with toys than just look at them. Even young babies will try to touch, smell, and taste the toys within their reach. Pick some safe toys and let your baby explore!
  4. Rotate those toys! Babies love variety in toys' size, shape, texture and color. They may be particularly fascinated by differences between objects. As your baby's interest fades, you might find that trading for a toy that is much larger or smaller, with a different color or texture, will hold your baby's interest longer. The bigger the difference between toys, the better. You don't need a lot of toys, just variety. Rotate the toys when your baby is still alert but seems to be bored. Don't overdo it or you may find that your baby is overstimulated. Watch for cues that your baby needs a break from playing.

  5. Baby's favorite toys don't have to be expensive. Many parents have spent money on the latest "must-have" toy only to find that the baby prefers the box the toy came in. Babies don't need fancy toys. Babies can be happy playing with a set of measuring cups. Just remember to vary the size, shape, color, and texture and your baby is likely to be happy to play with whatever you give to her. Remember, she's not impressed by labels or price tags!

  6. Talk to your baby about her new toys. Your baby loves to hear the sound of your voice and she is eager to learn about language and words. Tell your baby about the colors and shapes she sees and the sounds she hears. The more you talk about her toys in a happy sing-song voice, the more your baby will listen and learn.

  7. Encourage your baby to move. Any toy can be used to encourage your baby to be active. Newborns will try to follow toys by moving their eyes and bodies; older babies will reach, creep, crawl and eventually walk to get to toys. All babies need activity, even young babies need some time to play each day on their tummies with their hands and legs free to move.
  8. You are your baby's favorite toy! Babies love to be held and entertained by repetitive rhymes and games. Games like peek-a-boo and "where's your nose?" will keep your baby happy long after she's lost interest in her shiny and loud gifts. Your time and loving attention mean a lot more to your baby than the holiday packages. Most of all, new toys are far more exciting for your baby when you are nearby to share the fun.

What was your baby's favorite holiday toy?

Next time: We'll have another baby quiz!

1 comment:

  1. Toy rotation is a great way to keep your babys interest up. They do remember there toys but variety is always appreciated in adults and babys. Interacting with different toys on a rotating basis help stimulate the babys brain as opposed to playing with the same toy.