My kids’ childhood is far different from mine. I was happy playing with a simple rattle and squeaker rubber toys just for fun and nothing else. Times have changed since then, and so did children and their priorities.
I have myself changed a lot. I want to be informed about my child’s opportunities for growth, I plan their schedules, and make sure they have an all-round development. So, when I am buying them toys, I don’t buy them just for fun anymore but focus on fun-learning.
And thus began my quest for finding the right toys that would support my child’s cognitive skills.
What are cognitive skills?
The US National Council on Measurement in Education defines cognitive skills as “the ability of an individual to perform the various mental activities most closely associated with learning and problem solving”.
You might question as to why I have chosen only cognitive skills: It is easy to keep track of my child’s physical milestones, but not easy to measure his cognitive abilities.
It is hard to understand how his brain is deciphering the information and developing in accordance with his age. Most of the cognitive development happens naturally, but I realized I could help my child enhance his skills through play. As a responsible parent, I did my part by providing him with toys that helped in his cognitive development.
Am sure you would want to know what I did:
1. See, hear and grasp:
Babies grow up fast, and soon my little one started responding and reacting to things around him. His social skills started developing, he would want to look himself in the mirror and smile. He loved playing ‘peek-a-boo’ with me. This is when I bought him Laugh & Learn® Smart Stages™ Tablet.
The Fisher Price® Laugh & Learn® Smart Stages™ Tablet is the baby’s own tablet. It encourages imitation and imagination through early role-play.
The best thing is that Smart Stages technology gives you an option to select the stage that’s age-appropriate. The three levels in the toy have a mix of developmentally appropriate songs, sounds, and phrases. The screen lights up and twinkles when the songs and phrases play. This toy introduces your baby to letters, first words, animals, and phrases. The child learns to imitate the sounds and songs from the tablet and uses them while socializing.
You can buy it here.
2. Cause and effect:
Some toys respond to the actions of the baby. Thereby, the child gets to learn cause and effect, a critical cognitive skill that helps him know how to be careful while playing, walking, and during other daily activities.
The Fisher Price Press and Go Monster is a toy babies have great fun playing with as it encourages the baby to crawl after the toy. Your child just needs to press the monster’s head and see it zoom forward. Babies discover that their actions make fun things happen, a great start to understand the cause and effect concept. It also stimulates the baby’s senses through a variety of textures — rubber teeth, horns, and knotted hair.
You can buy here.
3. Visual skills:
In the first few months, my baby would see cross-eyed. Being a first-time mother I was worried, but my doctor helped me understand that it’s normal in babies and evens out as he grows. But then, I had to make sure if his eye-hand coordination skills are fine. Rock-a-stack toy helped him in that.
The Fisher Price Rock-A-Stack involves arranging the rings as per their size. This toy enhances the baby’s eye-hand coordination, explorative skills and increases his curiosity as he tries to stack the rings as per their size. The bright colored rings have swirling beads that help in increasing the visual development. Upon arranging all the rings, your baby can bat at the bottom to see the toy move back and forth, which is exciting and fun.
You can buy here.
4. Problem-solving skills:
These have to be inculcated in the child from a young age because they help him in the later years. My son quickly mastered solving puzzles, so I had to choose some other games to increase his skills. I got him a shape sorter.
The Fisher Price Butterfly Shape Sorter has six colorful shapes that are easy for the baby to grasp and sort. Sorting and matching the block shapes in the openings develops thinking and problem-solving skills. It also introduces your baby to shapes and colors and develops eye-hand coordination skills.
You can buy here.
5. Sensorial skills:
These tell us how the baby is processing the information he is receiving from his environment and how the brain is responding to that information in a meaningful way. When my baby was very young, I found the Kick & Play Piano Gym helpful in enhancing his sensorial skills.
With Fisher Price Kick & Play Piano Gym, the baby kicks the piano and the music plays. It has movable toys hanging from the upper arch of the gym to encourage the baby bat and grasp the toys. You could also let the baby sit down and kick the keys on the piano.
The music, lights, bright colors, and mirror stimulate the sensory part of the child’s brain. It also makes the child curious about various things. It stimulates your baby’s visual sense and promotes self-awareness. As the baby plays, new discoveries are made and key developmental skills get stronger. It also helps your baby learn the connection between actions and reactions.
You can buy Kick and play piano gym here.
6. Creative skills:
A little bit of creativity never hurt anyone. Creative skills are important these days, and I wanted to let my child explore his creative potential. What better way than through Basics Snap-Lock beads.
Fisher Price Snap-Lock Beads: Babies love to play repetitively. As a parent, you might get bored to help him play with the same toys. But these brightly-colored beads stimulate your baby’s creative skills and also strengthen his developing skills.
The baby just needs to snap the beads together and pull them apart repeatedly. This beads set has 12 multi-color beads, which need to be put together to make a circle or a long train of beads. The individual beads can be used as separate toys too – they are simple to lock or unlock.
The colorful objects attract the baby’s attention and he never outgrows his fascination for the toy. This toy enhances the child’s creativity and eye-hand coordination skills.
You can buy here.
7. Critical thinking and planning skills:
This might sound too much for a baby. No, I am not pressurizing my baby to think and plan hard. This is a good-to-have skill in the long run. Think & Learn Code-a-pillar supported my child in developing his thinking and planning skills while having fun.
Fisher Price Think & Learn Code-a-pillar toy encourages the baby to experiment while developing thinking and problem-solving skills. The toy has a set of eight segments; the child can arrange and rearrange the segments in various combinations that set the Code-a-pillar™ on an action path. And for every path, there are cool sounds and lights that emit from the toy. This toy also helps the child to think independently. The kids are inspired to become learners as this toy allows exploration and discovery.
You can buy here.
Before you decide to buy toys, just a word of caution to all parents. Don’t overwhelm your baby with too many toys, they might confuse the little one and he might totally withdraw. Provide him with one toy at a time and keep the games simple.
What toys did you buy for your baby to enhance the developmental skills? Let us know in the comment section.