During the first three months of infancy, babies spend most of their time eating and sleeping. Their eyes are just learning to focus on objects near their face and they are unable to grasp a toy with their own hand. Even in these helpless first few months, babies are beginning to discover their surroundings by seeing and hearing.
As your newborn grows, she will learn that her arms and legs move. She will begin to explore her world with the help of her sense of touch. During the months of infant discovery, it is important to provide your baby with a variety of age-appropriate learning toys to promote her healthy growth and development.
The best traditional toys for babies are those that allow them to explore using their senses. Bright, vivid colors and contrasting patterns are easy for her to focus on and toys that make noise will thrill an infant at any age. Various textures and toys with easy to operate buttons or knobs are great for encouraging development in newborns.
Rattles are classic toys that are still favorites for infants. Look for rattles with bold colors and an easy to grip handle. Until your baby learns to hold things in her hand, typically between 3 and 6 months, she can watch the rattle as you gently shake it for her. As your little one grows, encourage her to shake her rattle along with music and during sing-along time.
Most babies begin teething around 3 or 4 months of age, so be sure to provide your newborn with several teething toys. Many teethers double as activity toys with rattling pieces and a mixture of shapes and materials to explore. Make sure all the toys you give your baby during her teething stages are safe for her to put in her mouth. Avoid toys with small parts that may pose choking hazards.
Soft, cuddly dolls are ideal toys for infants as well. Choose safe dolls designed for children under a year old. Soft toys that squeak when you squeeze them will delight babies and dangly plastic toys like key rings will fascinate them. Activity gyms that allow babies to lay underneath them and play are also good choices.
Babies are captivated with their own image. Shatter proof mirrors and activity mats with mirrors will allow your infant to safely explore that pretty baby in front of her. Remember to provide your baby with a selection of sturdy board books and make reading to your little one a part of your daily routine.
Music has been proven to aid in childhood development, so introduce your baby to a variety of songs and rhythms. Play upbeat music softly in the background during playtime and consider a relaxing lullaby CD at night or during naps. Sing with your baby often and play simple sing-song games like pat-a-cake with her.
Once your baby becomes mobile, she will enjoy upright toys that allow her to push as she practices walking behind it. Many walkers are designed with knobs and buttons that click and spin to entertain your baby when she stops to play. There are several toys that are appropriate for babies under a year old. Choose toys that enhance learning and development by allowing your little one to safely explore a variety of sights and sounds with her hands and feet, as well as her mouth.
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