For all children, toys are props and the process of play is valuable in the development of physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills. The toys an infant plays with today may help shape the skills a child masters tomorrow.
In the infant years, the first toy a child needs is you. It is important to monitor a child’s progress milestone by milestone and introduce new sensory textures once you recognize a child has learned a new skill. Once baby crawls, climbs and stands, small climbing structures and ride-on toys foster use of large muscle groups. Gross motor activities help develop balance and exercise with the whole body.
Look for toys that will encourage a baby to build on naturally occurring developmental skills. Buying more advanced toys to speed the process is not advisable. A toy that is too complicated or too difficult to use will often frustrate your little one.
The concept of sticking to a task and learning a difficult new skill is one that is many years off. Babies are much more grounded in the present. As a child learns something new, enhance that skill and choose toys that will allow her to practice the skill. This raises self-esteem and creativity and provides your child with a sense of accomplishment.
Keep in mind toys for an older sibling are not recommended for the hands or within reach of a younger child. Small pieces, sharp edges on a toy, magnet toys and a storybooks with non-rounded edges are inappropriate for every infant. Any toy that is fun most likely will engage repeat continued interest.
Remember, playing with your infant creates a bonding, parent-child interaction that is priceless.