Toys and playtime in your baby’s first year are so important. It is how they learn and develop key motor skills and understanding of the world around them.
How do you know when to introduce toys to your baby? What age does your child start to benefit from musical toys and when should you introduce books to a baby? These are some of the questions I found myself asking (Googling) over the last 12 months.
I’ve just packed away some of Jaxon’s younger toys to make room for more advanced ones. It got me thinking about developmental milestones and playtime. And so, I wanted to share with you some of the fabulous toys that Jaxon has loved through his first year.
Toys for The Newborn Stage?
In the first few weeks, babies can barely see very far and so toys are lost on them. They are more focused on eating and sleeping so best not to put too much emphasis on toys at this stage.
Overstimulation can also mess with sleeping patterns. Enjoy the cuddly stage while it lasts!
A bit of tummy time is all they need – if you have any soft teddies for baby to look at as they learn to use their neck muscles this is more than sufficient.
Jaxon loved his plush rattles hat he would chew on when he learned how to grab.
He also LOVED his Lamaze Dragon Flip Flap Toy as it makes a clicking sound when you pull the string. The back of the tail is also black and white stripes which used to get his attention.
Keep in mind that black and white is most attractive to your baby at this stage so no need to worry about bright colours just yet.
Toys for Babies Between 1-3 Months
This was before Jax started to roll so he would spend most of his waking time on his back (with tummy time in between) staring at the toys on his Skip Hop Tree Top Friends Activity Gym
This was totally worth the buy as it was plush on the bottom, had heaps of different textured toys and they can be moved higher and lower on the 4 arms to allow for different ages.
Jaxon didn’t move into his cot to sleep until around 5 months so we would use the cot as a safe place for play. His Bubba Blue Elephant Musical Mobile was a great way for him to learn to be alone during play, whilst still being safe and secure.
This is where I would place him if I needed to duck to the loo or wash the dishes, with him within ear-shot. As he got older, he would coo and reach for the hanging elephants and the music would calm him down.
He was using these through learning to roll both ways and only really got over them when he learned to crawl and could explore the whole house.
Playtime for Babies Between 3-6 Months
At this age, everything is a toy. A box of tissues being pulled out and torn up; bubbles blown in the air; mama’s keys… At this age, babies are starting to learn their impact on the world. Toys that make noise when you touch them are great for this.
Jax loves his Crinkle Cloth Books
His soft rattles also came back in handy in this time as well as his Sophie The Giraffe Teething Toy
I would have to say that this saved our teething journey, he just loved it. He used this to about 9 months old so while its at the higher end in terms of cost for a baby toy, we found it was worth it.
Another toy that grabbed his interest was his Pop Up Activity Toy. Now he didn’t have a clue how to use the toy (hence 9month+ recommendation) but he enjoyed smacking it until something happened and enjoyed the element of surprise when we would pop up the different characters for him.
It became a familiar toy which as he got older he learned how to intentionally operate the pop-ups.
The Development of Playtime Between 6-9 months
By about 8 months babies are really into the action/reaction relationship.
We put a bongo drum in front of him, showed him twice how to hit it with his hand and he was away, banging it like he had been doing it in a past life haha.
This 12pc Musical Percussion Set is brilliant and includes a drum, xylophone, tambourine and maracas.
Jax also loves his Vtech Baby Lil’ Critters Spin and Discover Ferris Wheel which suctions onto either the coffee table or highchair while he smacks it to spin it around.
Another thing he loves to play with his mama’s phone… which I’m not proud to admit, as it clearly shows that I am on it WAY too much. We ended up giving him an old broken Samsung which he likes to play with #androidfamily
The only problem is that he quickly learned that mama and daddy’s phones light up and make music, and his does not. The solution? VTech Touch And Swipe Baby Phone!
Interactive Toys for Babies Between 9-12 months
By around 10 months, your baby is all about suspense and events. They will anticipate events like if you pause before giving them a raspberry or throwing them up in the air, you will likely get met with a fit of giggles before the actual event. This sort of suspense is them learning how to predict consequences which will help them with developing gross and fine motor skills.
For example, “when I take a step I will move forward”
Event toys like this 10pc Alphabet Stacking Blocks. They can be used to teach them how to stack and organize as well as knocking them down and getting excited with this ‘event’
Another great type of toy for this age group is singing dancing toys like Tickle Me Elmo. Babies will get a kick out of an inanimate object singing, dancing, and laughing.
Books For Any Age
While toys are a huge part of playtime during baby’s first year, books are also vital for baby’s development. Books will always be a huge part of their development and an early introduction is more important than most people know. Your child may not understand the images or the story just yet; but it is proven that babies who are read to often, are significantly more likely to have better language development and talk earlier (even just baby talk).
Whether it be a routine bedtime story or a few books placed in your baby’s toy area/toy box so they are accessible, there are a lot of ways to familiarize your child with literature.
Here are some of our favourite sorts of books for baby/toddler:
- Waterproof bath books – these are made from plastic and are great for bath time fun.
- Books with thick cardboard pages – the pages are easier to grab and turn for little fingers and they also are a little more sturdy and harder for baby to damage the pages.
- Lift the flap books – a great way to teach and encourage fine motor skills as well as teaching your baby about programs (turn the page, lift the flap, put the flap down, turn the page, etc.)
- Audiobooks – whether it be animal sounds or music these books are a great interactive tool.
Toys and playtime in your baby’s first year is always so much fun. Without you even realizing that you are teaching your child valuable skills. Even teaching your child to ‘pack up’ their toys is a skill (one you will be grateful for one day).
What toys does your child absolutely LOVE to play with? Let us know in the comments below!