(This is a two part series! Check last week for Part One: birth to 6 months!)
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!
Your baby has a personality and it’s starting to show! They want to tell you things, show you new tricks, and are trying to make sense of the world around them. Babies are so curious at this age and we really want to encourage that curiosity through their play and social interactions. Play becomes more purposefully during the last half of a baby’s first year. Toys for this age remain focused on motor and language development and include a cause and effect reaction. Let’s see your baby show off a little!
O Ball creates a variety of toys similar to this one, including balls, rattles, etc. This specific one is great because it can be introduced and used appropriately at any age. The flexible “mesh” like top makes it easy for kids to manipulate on their own and with a playmate. They can hold it, shake it, and practice transferring it between each hand. The car feature will be so interesting to your baby. They may enjoy rolling it across the floor and will watch as the beads rattle in the wheels. Playing a passing game with your baby using this toy will promote social interactions through turn-taking. Don’t forget to model language during that back and forth play like using a “Ready, set, go!” narration as you pass the car!
I love these alternative stacking “blocks.” The weighted ball shape gives it a more interesting dynamic for your baby to explore. They can stack them in many ways and watch as it creates a more visually interesting structure when adding one on top of the other. This toy is great for babies to work on their fine motor skills and coordinate to avoid knocking it down. Your baby can stack, roll, spin, and transfer the different sized pieces as part of their play. I’ve seen many babies occupy themselves with this toy for extended periods of time. It’s fun for both your baby, and the caregiver!
9 to 12 Months
Here are some toys that can help with that:
Your baby is closing in on those last few months of their first year and boy have they learned a lot! Time really does fly and it can sometimes be nostalgic to think about everything that’s happened leading up to this point. You and your baby have been through a lot together and there is still so much to learn and grow from. By now, your baby has preferences, understands more language, and is continuously learning, thinking and problem solving. Play should still be fun, but also challenging. We want to support your baby to achieve things like hand eye coordination, first words, and sustained attention.
Here are some toys that can help with that:
This is twist on the modern classic I am sure most of us grew up with and loved. I know I did! At this age, your baby should now understand the idea of object permanence or the idea that when things disappear they are not gone forever. Your baby will love the surprise of the hungry caterpillar popping out of the box. The music provides an auditory stimulus your baby will learn to recognize before anticipating the pop up surprise. Try turning it the majority of the way and then encouraging your baby to finish. They eventually can use their developed fine motor skills and hand eye coordination to turn the toy completely by themselves. This toy is sure to bring many belly laughs!
There are many, many, many, varieties of this toy. The classic shape sorter! I love this one because of its wooden material and simplicity. The more durable, eco-friendly material will last through your child’s first few years of life and into those pre-academic stages of learning. You can encourage your baby to put the correct shapes in the holes by pointing out where they go or letting them explore it on their own. The open top makes it easy for a baby to dump and fill - another great play skill babies love to show off. To promote gross motor development, put the shapes on top of the couch and encourage your baby to pull themselves up to stand and cruse along the length of the couch to collect each shape and dump into the box.
Post written by Caitlin LeBeau, TBH Team Member & Doula
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