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Let's Talk Toys! Tips for Birth to 6 Months

(This is a two part series! Check back for part two 6 months to 12 months next week!)

Toys have so many great benefits! They bring joy, concentration, and education for children of all ages. Even adults can’t resist a good toy, like a new high-tech blender for the kitchen or a cool solar powered lawn mower for the yard. But when it comes time to build that baby registry and fill that nursery with toys for your expected baby, parents find it so difficult to choose the “right” ones from the thousands of toys out there on the market today. But it really doesn’t need to be that hard! You don’t need the newest addition of baby toys. Knowing what stage of development your baby is in and how to use the toys you have is the key to success when playing with your child during their first year. We are going to help you navigate that! I am going to break down the major developmental milestones of your baby’s first year of life and a few toys that can help foster that development. Playtime is going to be so fun for you and your baby!

Birth-3 Months

Yes! Your babies do more than just eat, poop, and sleep during these first few months! Play doesn’t need to look like this big production and toy explosion. Having a few good toy staples will be super beneficial for both your sanity and your baby’s development. During this stage of development, we want to think about the motor development of both your baby’s large and small muscles and the start of their social interactions like responding to familiar voices, sounds and people.

Here are a few toys to consider when thinking about play time in those first few months:
I love this mirror because it is versatile and visually stimulating. Although your baby won’t recognize themselves yet, they will be so interested in that silly baby looking back at them. The contrasting colors are easy for your baby to see and the different pictures and shapes it comes with will spark their curiosity. Your baby will want to grab at the mirror’s reflection and they will begin to reach out to it to explore it more. Use this during tummy time to encourage baby to lift their head and look at themselves. Strengthening your baby’s neck muscles is so important for head control and later gross motor skills. This mirror is a must have if you have a fussy baby during tummy times. 
I can’t say enough good things about crinkle paper. It is simple yet so developmentally stimulating and interesting for your baby! This toy really wakes up a baby’s senses in the best way. Babies learn about their environment through touch and sound. This toy is safe for babies to mouth, chew, grasp and shake. You can even play a little peekaboo with your baby using this paper as motivation to look for your face. Watch them smile when you reappear! 
3 to 6 Months
This is such a fun age for both parents and babies! Your baby is more alert and responsive to their environment. They are making more sounds, using facial expressions and learning how to navigate their surroundings better. Your baby is working so hard during play and you may not even realize it! During this stage, we are thinking about how to foster that language development and continuing to support gross motor skills through, you guessed it, more tummy time!!

Here are a few toys to consider during months 3 to 6:

Introducing a play mat will be helpful when encouraging your babes to tolerate tummy time for longer periods of time. This mat is awesome because it provides a few different support options depending on what position is most comfortable for your baby and where they are in development, whether it’s working on rolling, independent sitting or crawling. It allows for toy attachments and a mirror to make their experience more interactive and motivating. Your baby will be mastering those gross motor skills in no time!

It may seem silly to read books to your child at such young age but it is totally appropriate and encouraged even before birth! Reading to your baby is a great way for them to recognize your voice, learn about speech patterns, and enhances a baby’s exposure to vocabulary and memory. This book is usually a hit with our younger crowd due to its interesting designs and high-contrast images. Don’t let the lackluster narration on each page detour you! You can assign your own language to each picture as you and your baby read together. Talk about what you see, what it reminds you of, and assign silly sounds or noises that are appropriate for each picture. The more you talk the more your baby will listen and absorb your language. They may even imitate a sound or two! Add books to your library for more variety during your play routine.
Remember, playtime is important during your baby’s first year of life, but it should still be fun! Everyday objects around the house are just as good as an overpriced toy from your local toy store. Fill a water bottle with rice to make a rattle or have fun with an empty (or full) tissue box. Use playtime as an excuse to bond with your baby and don’t stress about what they may or may not be learning. Babies will naturally learn through play and we as parents just need to provide our tiny humans the time and space to explore that playtime environment!
Post written by Caitlin LeBeau, TBH Team Member & Doula

Don’t forget to check out our newest adventure The Birth Lounge, listen in to The Birth Lounge Podcast, and follow us on Instagram at @tranquilitybyhehe! 


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