As they grow and develop, babies can begin to explore their world. While exploration is an important part of learning and growing, safety must remain a priority. Toys designed for babies can enable them to explore sounds, sights, and textures in a safe and appropriate way.
As you provide these opportunities for exploration, choose toys that are designed for your baby's age and developmental level for optimal learning and safety.
Newborns, 0 to 3 Months
A newborn has limited fine and gross motor skills. With these limitations, the main opportunities for newborn play will be by providing visual and auditory stimuli with toys for your little one to see and hear. Colorful toys can capture your baby's attention. Toys that rattle when you shake them or that play music may also appeal to newborns. Provide toys such as mobiles that move and make sounds when attached to a crib. Unbreakable mirrors can also provide suitable entertainment for newborn babies. Do not place stuffed animals or other toys in your baby's crib or bassinet to avoid potential dangers from suffocation.
Pre-Crawlers, 3 to 6 Months
Once a baby reaches the pre-crawling stage, your little one should be ready for some new toys that will stimulate the senses and enable additional exploration. Babies between the ages of 3 and 6 months are beginning to try to grab objects they see, and they may enjoy trying to reach or bat at toys. A play gym placed over a baby lying on the floor can position toys where the infant can see then and try to reach them. Toys with bright colors and noises like rattling or music can capture a baby's attention. Babies of this age are gaining enough dexterity to put objects in their mouths for oral exploration. Always ensure that the toys you provide are suitable for your baby's age and that the toys do not have sharp corners or loose parts to avoid injury. Continue to keep toys out of your baby's crib for safety. Check toy labels for lead content also, because some toys may contain lead in paint or plastic.
Crawling Babies, 6 to 9 Months
When babies gain mobility, they can begin exploring the world in more ways. Babies in this age range will still explore objects orally by placing things in their mouths. For this reason, continue to monitor your baby carefully, keeping small and sharp items out of reach. Provide age-appropriate soft toys that squeak when squeezed, rattling toys that make noise when shaken, and musical toys that play engaging songs for your little one. Plastic blocks could be ideal for stacking to build towers for your baby to knock down. Sturdy books with a variety of textures can provide tactile surfaces for exploration. Babies this age may also enjoy balls for rolling and following across the floor.
Pre-Walkers and Walkers, 9 to 12 Months
By the time an infant reaches the pre-walking or walking stage, new gross motor skills necessitate new safety considerations. A baby in this age group will likely be pulling up to a standing position, cruising around furniture, and possibly even taking a few steps toward increasing independence. Close doors to restrict baby's access to rooms in your home. Place gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent falls. Supervise your little one at all times for safety. Babies entering the toddler phase will often enjoy toys such as wooden knob puzzles, nesting containers, trucks and cars for pushing around the floor, and stuffed animals for hugging. Always choose toys designed for your baby's age to ensure safety and appropriate play. Toys should never have sharp corners or loose parts. Babies this age will continue to enjoy toys with bright colors and engaging sounds.