Kids take each step at a time. When a baby is born, the first thing they do is see and feel. Eventually, they observe the things around and then build an impression. They begin to learn and familiarize themselves with faces and sounds. As they grow, they begin to play with toys, learn to emote and express and communicate.
It could be amazing but in each step of their learning toys play an important role as babies are fascinated with them. As just borns they just look at their toys, after a couple of months they seek to reach their favourite toy, when they access that toy they are elated, then they put it in their mouth and so goes on their growth.
At every stage of your baby’s growth, there is a toy that is silently helping the little one grow. Don’t believe me yet? Then you should read on.
Stages of childhood and relevant toys:
Playing with toys is essential for kids at various stages in their life, right from newborns to pre-school age. It may not seem so obvious to our eyes, but while kids play they also learn. But the toys need to be age-specific for them to help the child in developing multiple skills.
It is important to understand that there are age-appropriate toys for every child at every stage of their growing years.
Imagine giving a teething key to a five-year-old or a heavy bat to an infant. If you are gifting a wrong toy to your child, they would neither enjoy nor benefit from it. Here is a guide to help you in buying the right toys for your kid:
Babies (0-6 months):
1. Newborn gyms:
At this stage, the babies need a bit of entertainment, complete comfort and a lot of sleep. Baby gyms provide all the three. Take for instance a gym that is extremely popular with mothers and kids alike, the Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym. It’s perfect for any baby to spend the day playing on his tummy or while he sits up. The gym plays music when the baby kicks the piano keys with his legs. The toys and teethers that hang from the toy bar above keep the baby entertained for long, and the mat is so comfortable that the baby will enjoy lying on it during the play time, tummy time and sleep time. Here babies learn the art of grasping thus enhancing their sensory skills at an early age, the activity filled gym develops the baby’s gross motor skills and develops a sense of curiosity when he kicks and music plays!
2. Teether keys:
As the babies begin teething, they have a strong urge to put things in their mouth and bite. Teethers and rattle toys are specifically made for this purpose. They come with teethable surfaces and bright colors. The accompanying sounds will keep the baby amused. The rattle sounds and bright colors help engage the baby’s senses of sight and hearing. They also help develop grasping action and foster eye-hand coordination and motor skills
Infants and toddlers (6-24 months):
When the infants begin to sit, it is the first time that they actually play with toys (other than holding and chewing). Stacking toys come with rings of different colours and shapes. And yes, you guessed it right. The child needs to stack them up based on their shapes and sizes. It makes them use their motor as well as cognitive skills. Thus, the toy helps them improve visual and spatial perception (depth perception, hand-eye coordination), understanding relative sizes and shapes, balancing of the body while sitting and controlling their trunk movement (1).
Want your kid to do good in mathematics later in life? Then you have to make them play with some sorting toys. According to the Michigan State University Extension in the US, sorting activity helps develop their math skills early in life as they will be able to see math in their everyday life while they are matching and sorting objects (2). The idea is to help kids at a younger age understand and develop their sense of shapes, sizes, fine motor skills, hand eye-coordination and cognitive skills.
5. Identifying colours:
When your baby completes one year, they must have achieved several milestones, such as crawling, taking tiny steps, teething and more. They also develop the ability to recognise and differentiate things by their colour. This is the right time to introduce to them building blocks, as they can build tiny structures by identifying the colours of the blocks. Let me recommend one of the popular ones that are safe for all ages as they are big blocks meant for small hands and therefore, you can be worry free. Mega Bloks are blocks of a large size and of great quality. As they are large, they are safe for all ages. Block play is a very creative way for kids to learn how to use and build on their imagination. The toy also helps keep them busy.
Preschool children (24-36 months):
6. Basic numbers and alphabet:
The toddler is now ready to begin their formal education. Try teaching them the alphabet or the numbers in the dry way, and they will simply refuse to learn. But buy them an alphabet toy or a toy that recites the numbers, and they will learn. Here again, Mega Bloks has the ABC Learning Train which helps kids play and learn basic letters and the alphabet. It’s a fun toy and moms world over love it!
7. Musical toys:
Take your toddler on a musical adventure. Gift them a toy that sings and teaches them the alphabet, colours, numbers and more. Music simultaneously activates multiple centres of the brain to trigger language, hearing, and rhythmic motor control (3). Musical toys help stimulate their senses in various ways and such toys are a fun way of learning with play!
Pre-school children (36 months +)
8. Role play:
Pre-school also has a lot of imaginative play as a play pattern can be observed in young kids. They imitate and like to ‘be’ someone they see around. It can be an influence of watching content or simply observing how people behave in their various professions. Role-play toys help develop their imagination and creativity. They also become socially open as they are able to express. And that builds their confidence.
Modern day toys are so intelligently made that they make the kid learn while playing. However, as the market is flooded with products that may seem cheaper in price, you need to make a wise decision to buy toys and not compromise on good quality and safety. Afterall it’s for your kids. Education and learning is fun for children when it’s presented to them correctly. And what better way than ensuring this with play – as playing more means learning more.