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Developmental Infant Toys

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 11.41.53 AMEverything your child sees, holds and plays with is an opportunity to learn something new about their world or hone an essential skill. Keep this in mind when you’re shopping for toys and you’ll turn your playard into your child’s first (and probably best) classroom ever!

When you’re out buying toys for your infant (or someone else’s infant), consider the skills they need to master at that stage: basic hand-eye coordination, vision & hearing, and understanding cause & effect (if I do this, that happens). Then look for options that will help them work on these.

Hand-eye coordination

A young infant will look down at its hands and have no understanding at all that he or she has the power to control them. The only way to develop this awareness is through activating their hands by giving them many different things to touch. At first, you’ll be directing their hands, but in time you’ll feel them put some pressure down on the object. Then they’ll learn how to put their hands and arms around something to hold it. And eventually, they’ll figure out what their fingers are for and start to grasp onto things.

When stocking up on toys for hand-eye coordination, look for variety in texture and shape so your baby can get used to the feel of different objects, how to hold them and what they do. As they get older, they’ll start to use them in ways you may not have even considered . Before you know it, your baby will be teaching you a thing or two.

Sight & Sound

Newborn babies can only see objects roughly 8-15 inches in front of them and they can’t focus on much of anything. Like hand-eye coordination, vision improves with practice. For you, this means giving them as many things to look at as you can, whether they’re in their crib, their stroller, their bouncer or their playard. Make sure the colours on the toys are high contrast so your baby can easily spot differences. This will eventually lead to name recognition, but that’s down the line a bit.

On the flip side, newborn babies are hearing experts – it’s one of the first senses to develop in utero. However, since they spent the first 10 months of life listening to muffled womb sounds, the noises of the world can be a bit jarring. When selecting a toy with sound, make sure it’s neither too high-pitched nor too loud (while a baby’s hearing is developed, it’s still very sensitive). Fisher Price’s Ocean Wonders Aquarium is a great place to start.

Cause & Effect

For the first few months, your baby will be a passive participant in their own lives, barely watching the world go by as they’re fed, changed and bathed. Around the 4-month mark, they’ll be ready to take a more active role. Cause-&-effect toys are an excellent way to promote this.

Through play with these kinds of toys, your baby will learn how to affect change. That could mean creating sound where there was no sound before, moving something from one place to another or altering the look or shape of an object. The look of surprise and delight on your little one’s face when they do it for the first time is priceless, and as they experiment, they’ll continue to blow their own minds by what they learn to do.

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