Educational Toys are quite an important feature in your baby’s development for many reasons. One of which is that in every child is that innate tendency to want to build and create their ideas and thoughts and the best way to do such is through the use of toys. As a parent, the first conception you have about toys is anything to keep your baby entertained and distracted while you go about your other daily tasks. True, but toys can be a whole lot more than playthings, they could be learning tools, which is why in this article, we would be giving you tips on how to pick the right baby educational toys for your little one.
A toy is a miniature object, which is usually the replica of anything that a child could play with. They are made of plastic, wool, or foam. Irrespective of their make, they could be harmful or unsafe for your baby, here is why…
Factors To Consider Before Introducing Your Child To Baby Educational Toys
Your baby develops at every age; such developments include the ability to identify anything accurately, identify colors, smells, and the ability to think out better means of doing things. The toys you purchase should enhance these skills better so that as they play, they can be able to learn as well. A toy that doesn’t challenge your little one will become a bore to him, while a toy that is too hard for him can frustrate him. Toys also can indicate if your child has special needs or he is gifted. All that is needed is close observation while your baby is using these toys.
Always examine every toy you hand to your little one, even though toy manufacturers do take safety into account, toys are not one-size-fits-all for all babies. Consider that within the first few months to one year of your baby’s life, he or she will bang, kick, pull, throw, suck or bite any toy given to him/her. Toys for this particular age bracket should be durable, and if they have small parts, your baby will break it off.
These smaller parts can choke your baby and lead to death if he/she are left unsupervised. To avoid choking, select toys with parts that are bigger than two inches. Also, ensure that these toys are coated or painted with non-toxic materials to avoid poisoning for your little one. They should also be the type that you can wash easily to keep them free of germs. Toys that have sharp edges or flints should be avoided because your baby could get hurt when they get broken.
Collect toys of different colors, textures, shapes, and sounds for your baby. This singular act subtly teaches your baby that there are multiple possibilities the world has to offer.
Simpler educational toys tend to last longer than complex toys, and they offer more versatility. He/she could throw it away today, and use it for props to make belief drama tomorrow.
The right baby educational toy, when used correctly will do a lot to stimulate your baby’s senses especially touch, sight, sound, and taste. They can also assist in developing hand-eye coordination, fine motor control etc.
Check online reviews
Educational toys with high positive reviews should be considered.
Our major point of focus is how to select the right baby educational toys. We would approach this through selecting the right toys for each age bracket.
From a few weeks to 6 months
At this age, babies work most with their ees, and are always fascinated by bright colors. They are mostly on their back and are fascinated by what their hands and feet can do; they also reach out for things and try to put it in their mouth. At this age, they are attracted to sounds and turn their heads swiftly towards sounds quickly and wriggle to the especially if they can dance.
At this age, rattles, large rings, teething toys, textured balls, and soft dolls are appropriate for children at this age. They would also enjoy listening to rhymes, poems, lullabies, and simple songs, so toys that play music to them is great. You could also have pictures to look at or toys with the silver coated surfaces to act as mirrors for them to stare at their reflections.
For older infants 7 to 12 months
At this stage, your baby can roll over, sit, scoot, bounce and stand comfortably. At this age, they can respond when being called their names, they can identify hidden objects, and pull things out of the places they were stored. Suitable toys for them include baby dolls, puppets, plastic, and wooden vehicles and building blocks. You could also get the rocking horse, large beads, balls, and scooters too. The toys for this age bracket will require the use of their muscles, arms, and limbs.
Children at this age are always on the go, very active and noisy too. Also, at this age, they can walk steadily and even climb the stairs without assistance. They can get into the experimenting zone, which means you have to always keep an eye on them to prevent them from getting hurt. The best types of toys for children in this grade include building blocks, board books with simple illustrations and infuse buttons that describe things when touched.
At this age, their creative instincts are higher, so materials to help them create should be made available for them. Such materials include large colorful papers, non-toxic crayons, poster color, clay, buckets, and pails (for sand pits), cardboard, wooden blocks, etc. They also enjoy playing make-believe stories, so toys like phones, dolls, doll beds, doll houses, baby carriage, strollers, dress-up accessories, stuffed animals, plastic animals, and realistic vehicles are suitable for them.
Children at this age have good control of their hands and legs, so they do a lot of running, jumping from heights, climbing, rolling and rough and tumble play. They are learning languages rapidly and can sense danger zones more. Toys that develop their problem-solving abilities such as wooden puzzles with 4 to 12 pieces, blocks that snap together, objects to sort and grade by size shape, and color. Etc.
For building construction, toys from Bob the builder are just right, dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets and sandpit toys. Toys to help them create such as chalkboard and large chalks, rhythm instruments, toddler sized-sized scissors with blunt tips, large non-toxic markers, paintbrushes, and finger paints and large colored construction paper. At this age, they can identify items betters, so buying picture books for younger with more details will be more engaging for them. Also, CD and DVD players with a variety of music will work for both entertainment and learning.
For three – six year olds
Children of this age group have longer attention spans and they can talk fluently and ask a lot of questions. They enjoy playing with their mates and are really competitive. At this age too, sharing their toys could be a little difficult but guiding them to understand the gains of sharing will help them.
Toys for children in this age include problem-solving toys such as puzzles of 12 to 20 pieces, blocks that snap together, shells, marbles, plastic bowls, toy alphabets and numbers, toy weighing balances, the abacus bottle caps, and rubber bands. These toys help them to sort objects into shapes, color, quantity, length and help them to count.
Toys for building such as more complex building blocks (a good type is the Leggo building blocks), construction sets such as toy trains and rail tracks, transportation toys, dolls with complete accessories, simple puppet theaters, child-sized furniture etc.
Toy musical instruments such as toy xylophones, tambourines, karaoke machines, drums, and trumpets. Toys that bring their creativity alive such as paint brushes, large and small papers for drawing and painting, pre-schooler scissors, chalkboards and chalks of different colors, modeling clay and play dough, modeling tools, paste, paper mache and cloth scraps for making collages and mosaic patterns.
At this age, they can read books with pictures and more words.
For their outdoor playpen, you could get wheelbarrows, wagons, plastic bats and balls, table tennis bats and balls, bicycles, tunnels, swings, and ladders. With the rate at which technology is being incorporated to our everyday lives, there are tablets tailor fit for kids of this age.
These tablets are either wi-fi enabled for ease of internet connectivity or have Bluetooth too. This feature will enable you as a parent to keep an eye on materials your kids are exposed to on the internet. If your child has access to computers, programs that are interactive and easily understandable are available. These programs help improve their graphics skills, typing skills, and mathematical skills.
Safety Tips For You And Your Baby When Using These Baby Educational Toys:
Use toys recommended by organizations that deal with child care and development.
Toys for baby’s and toddlers should be sterilized and cleaned often, to avoid ingesting germs.
Store these toys away in boxes when they are not in use, to avoid being stamped on by adults walking around in the house.
When toys get broken, the broken parts could get sharp and dangerous for your baby; glue such parts together or replace them.
Ensure that toys such as balls or teeters with liquid sealed it should be emptied completely should they start leaking at any time.
If you have children at different age grades, take away the toys made for the older children from the toddlers and babies, so that they don’t get to swallow them on choke on them.
Toys that operate with batteries should be checked often to see when the batteries have run down. Change the batteries and throw the batteries away. Also, ensure that the lids that seal off the batteries are always in place.
Keep away plastic bag packaging for these toys away from toddlers to avoid suffocation.
Always read the instruction manuals these toys come with.
Make sure that your little ones don’t play with wheel-like toys on elevated or sloppy surfaces. This is to avoid them wheeling off without control and crashing into areas where they will get hurt.
Don’t pick toys that are heavy for your child’s age.
Watch out for toxic toys and toys with magnets so that they don’t get ingested.
As your children get older, teach them to store and keep their playthings safely. This breeds that sense of responsibility in them.
When you purchase bicycles for your kids, ensure that they learn to ride with trainers before they drive off on their own.
If your baby gets a hand-me-down toy or toys shared during a birthday party, ensure they are safe your child before handing it to them.
If your child gets scared when he/she sees a toy, keep such toys away because they can get traumatic and affect the child’s psychology.
Use Electric toys that are UL approved, and seal off chords that have frayed cords to avoid shocks and burns.
Do not buy stuffed toys with beans or pellets in them because your baby could tear them open and swallow them.
This is basically all you need to know about choosing educational toys for your baby. However there is a debate that certain toys are meant specifically for children while some are not. As we mentioned earlier, the toys your children play with help them form their thought patterns, and these thought patterns could affect them as they grow older, positively or negatively.
Culturally, baby girls are made to play with dolls and doll playhouses, while the boys should play with building blocks. Arguments have arisen over time because girls are not exposed to toys that make them take up challenges and boys do not appreciate care and home keeping. What is your take on this idea, do comment below and share with other moms.