Which Toy Should I Choose?!
There are so many toys to choose from and new parents, even parents with multiple children, have a hard time picking a "good" or "perfect" toy! So, how do you know which toy to pick?!
First of all, the best toy that we can give to our children is our self...being present, in the moment, getting on the floor and playing with them. Sometimes, babies and children choose "familiar faces" over certain toys!! Take about 10-30 minutes or however many minutes you can manage to take away from other needs, chores, or work, and spend time with your child. Your little ones will thank you in the end, and those dishes or laundry will be there when you go back to them! Trust me, I know it can be easier said than done (I'm a parent to a 4-year-old), but you and your little one will feel so much better...and you may even learn something about or from them! Toys are not only for learning but to help build and enhance the parent/caregiver relationships. This is why it is so important to spend time with your baby or child.
Try to pick simple toys, can grow with your baby or child, and can be used in a variety of ways. For example, blocks, stacking rings, nesting cups, puzzles, and shape sorters can all be used throughout the baby and toddler stages. These toys can be used when a baby is young, especially if the toys are made with safe material (since everything goes to the mouth). For instance, the blocks or stacking rings can be used for grasping, bringing toys from hand to mouth, hand to hand, and crossing midline. You can also work on your baby bringing feet to hands or mouth by placing a stacking ring around the baby's foot. This is a very important skill that helps them roll over. All of the above skills help a baby or child develop new skills and milestones.
Also, pick toys that grow with the child! Choose puzzles, books, blocks, stuffed animals, dress-up costumes, pretend food, and toy cars or trucks to help spark your child's creativity. Sometimes children will take the lead playing with these types of toys and problem solve, especially when building towers with blocks. If they try to build a tall tower, but it keeps falling over, they can try to problem-solve to see why...or parents can offer help. Dress-up pretend play can become a child pretending to be a veterinarian to the stuffed animals and taking the animals to the hospital built from blocks.
All children are unique and some may need a little extra help with pretend play or problem-solving...and that is perfectly ok.
Pediatric therapists, which includes speech, occupational and physical therapists, can help babies and children with speech, socialization, fine and gross motor skills that will help during play time.
Whitney Castle, PT, DPT