Parents know that the first few months of a baby’s life are all about feeding, diaper changes, and cuddles. But after the so-called “fourth trimester” is over, your baby will be alert, interactive, and keen to learn and play. What’s the best way to entertain this little character? With baby toys, of course!
Experts know that babies learn through play. They need hands-on toys they can grab, pull, throw, shake, roll, or stack in order to develop their motor skills and make sense of the world around them. Educational toys, bouncers and swings, and activity centres are just a few of the types of baby toys available that can help promote your baby’s development.
Educational baby toys promote learning through exploration
There are loads of toys out there that promote babies’ neurological development. But, if you’re like me and you want to limit the amount of “baby stuff” in your house, there are a few must-haves that will take up minimal space and provide maximum learning.
An activity gym is an amazing way to keep your baby entertained and help him build important skills like grasping and pulling. My little guy is six months old, and he has loved his activity gym since day one! In the first few months, he was captivated by the bright colours and liked to swat at the toys dangling from above. Now that he’s older, he loves to grab the toys, pull them towards him, and practice rolling over on the mat.
The Bright Starts Roaming Safari Activity Gym can be configured in three different ways: active discovery, tummy time, and activity play. The chime and the rattle will be music to your baby’s ears. The mirror is great for encouraging him to lift his head during tummy time.
The Oball is a lightweight ball that’s easy for babies to grasp. This one comes with a rainstick in the middle, so it also provides your baby with auditory stimulation.
The Oball is one of my son’s favourite toys. He loves to put it in his mouth, pass it back and forth from one hand to the other, and watch me pick it up off the floor after he drops it!
Activity tables are great for babies who are learning to sit independently or pull to stand. The LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table Activity Centre is the best activity table I’ve seen. It has two different settings: discovery and music. In discovery mode, it identifies different colours, shapes, directions, numbers, and letters. In musical mode, it plays over 70 different songs using a variety of instruments such as the piano, trombone, and guitar. My son loves to push the piano keys, knobs, and buttons on this toy and is completely captivated by the music.
Right now, I hold him while he stands and plays because he loves to practice standing, but in a matter of months he’ll be holding himself up (and I’ll be blubbering, wondering where my baby went!). If baby wants to play in a seated position, just remove the legs of the table.
Bouncers and swings are baby toys that benefit parents
As a busy parent, there are many times throughout the day when you need to have your hands free. Bouncers and swings provide you with a safe place to put your baby down when you need to take a bathroom break, prepare a bottle, or make yourself something to eat. (Seriously, don’t forget to eat!)
In the first few months of life, the rocking motion of a swing will be soothing for your baby. He may even drift off to sleep in it. The Graco Simple Sway Swing is gender neutral and has both a swing and vibration feature. It has six different speeds, because not every baby likes to be rocked the same way. Your babe will love gazing up at the cloud mobile as he rocks and listens to the soft, classical music this swing plays.
As your wee one gets older, he won’t be satisfied watching the world go by in a swing. He’ll want to explore the world around him and practice using his hands and feet.
Also known as a “jumperoo”, a jumper is the perfect toy for when your baby graduates from his swing or bouncer. Once your baby has full head control and is showing interest in toys, she’ll enjoy spending time in her jumper. You can laugh along with your baby as you watch her explore the toys attached to it, or plop her into it and let her entertain herself while you cook dinner.
The Baby Einstein Neighbourhood Activity Jumper has a seat that swivels 360 degrees and can be adjusted to different heights as your baby grows. It includes a piano that lights up and plays music, a Caterpillar bead chaser, a rotating bird, and more. This is a great toy for promoting hand-eye coordination, sensory development, and motor skills.
Another must-have baby toy is the Jolly Jumper. This is a classic and extremely popular baby toy, and for good reason. Babies absolutely love it! I’ll never forget the first time I saw my friend’s son in his Jolly Jumper for the first time. The look on his face was priceless! I think it was even more fun for us watching him though—we couldn’t stop laughing. It was so cute!
You and your babe will have a riot while she exercises her legs and strengthens her muscles. This particular Jolly Jumper comes with a stand, so you can take it with you when you visit the in-laws.
Activity centres are baby toys that encourage gross motor development
Now that pediatricians are recommending that babies be put to sleep on their backs, daily tummy time is essential. Babies should spend lots of time face-down to develop the muscles needed for head control, sitting up independently, rolling over, and crawling. This is where an activity centre like a play mat comes in.
Many babies (mine included) dislike tummy time, since they’re accustomed to spending a lot of time on their backs. The Tiny Love Tummy Time Fun Under the Sea Play Mat makes tummy time more engaging. It comes with a pillow that supports your baby on his tummy and encourages him to lift his head. Your little one will love looking at himself in the mirror while he’s on his belly and may even be motivated to stay there longer! Even squeezing out a few extra minutes of tummy time each day can make a big difference in the long run.
The right baby toys will keep your little one happy, challenge her cognitively and physically, and even make your life just a little bit easier. For more toys to delight your baby, visit Best Buy.