Why baby toys are so important for development
While you could just sit and snuggle your baby all day, introducing play and toys is such an important stage in their development. Providing stimulation and opportunities to develop skills and strength will help your baby hit those milestones they need to reach. Play in those early weeks and months is as much about spending time with your baby as it is about building their strength and knowledge of the world around them. Use “play time” to build the bond you have with your baby. It is the most amazing experience to watch them as they start to roll or laugh or simply engage with a toy.
So what are those milestones that baby toys can assist with reaching? Your home doesn’t need to become like a Babies r us store, but with the right toys you will be on track!
Developing head and neck strength
You would have likely heard about tummy time… It sounds like a fun thing to do with your baby but it actually has a vital developmental benefit also.
When your baby lies on their tummy they are developing their head and neck strength. If you lay them on a playmat on their tummy, you will see that they will start to lift their head to look at the things around them. You are what is of most interest to them so each tummy time, sit or lay on a different side so they build strength all over. At this stage you won’t need any of the added toys on the playmat, just keep it simple, but you will come back to those later!
Some babies don’t enjoy tummy time initially so just ease into it slowly, a few minutes a day, until they are happier and more able to lift their head to see what is around them.
If you have ever seen a three-year-old try to pass their newborn sibling a toy you will have seen a baby’s inability to grasp onto things immediately. At that stage, they are really interested in one thing, and one thing only - YOU. While they will start to grasp onto your finger, introducing other safe toys for kids for them to reach for will help them with this skill. Stroller toys are a great way to do this. They have various elements to keep baby interested and as they grab the toy they will also be working on their sensory development. You can also start introducing a favourite stroller toy when you are doing tummy time to pique their interest and get that head and neck turning.
For a more fixed option, a stroller arch is also great for learning to grasp and giving baby something to study while they are in the pram. The reality of modern life is that you will spend a lot of time out and about in the stroller so having something here to keep baby interested in their surroundings is important. In those early stages your baby is still learning to focus their eyes beyond a certain point so having something engaging close by that they can see will also hopefully keep them happier in the stroller for longer.
If you head back to your playmat and this time add those extra toy attachments, your baby will eventually start to learn how to roll. This milestone can happen at different ages for different babies so don’t put too much pressure on yourself for baby to hit it at a certain age.
Rolling is a fun stage and is an important precursor to crawling and sitting. Just remember that once your baby starts rolling, they will be able to move from wherever you put them… it is amazing how quickly a baby can roll off a sofa even if you just walk to put your glass back on the counter. An activity mat on the ground will keep them engaged and safe (under supervision).
Adjusting to the sights and sounds of the world around them is part and parcel of baby development. Similar to giving them objects to aid their sensory development in the pram, at home there are also opportunities to develop this, such as at nappy change time or even while they are lying in their cot.
A mobile securely attached to the side of the change table or cot can provide many advantages. There is so much to see and do with a mobile, different shapes and colours to see and learn and perhaps music to help develop their awareness of sounds. A mobile can also be very soothing to baby – a bonus win at bedtime!
When your baby can sit independently (somewhere between 4-7 months) you can start introducing other activities such as stacking. This assists with their hand eye co-ordination and simply learning how things work – the difference between big and small.
Sit with your baby and show them how to stack. They may be more interested in sucking on the toys or just turning them over in their hands to start with, but soon enough they will be off and stacking and you won’t be able to stop them!
We have a few favourite developmental toys that hit the mark with reaching those milestones! Perfect for gifts, these are the target toys to go for.
So soft and extra-large, this is the perfect playmat for tummy time and beyond. With an in-built mirror and other sensory additions, this is ideal.
With 18 different tunes and a soothing motion to engage baby, this is our favourite mobile. Ideal to attach to the side of the cot, the music can play continuously for up to 40 minutes so baby will be asleep in no time.
Baby toys that have a multi-purpose are always going to be winners. In Thomas Jitter’s case, he is a stroller toy that can be attached to the stroller for those grasping and sensory development skills. But more than that he is also a teether so your little one can chomp down on his favourite little friend for some soothing relief to his gums.
This stroller arch has a universal stroller attachment and is absolutely adorable. There really is so much to see and do with the cutest little characters on the arch. If you are an active family and will be using the stroller a lot, this one is a must.
Nappy change time can often be difficult, particularly if your little one doesn’t enjoy the sensation of a cold wipe on their bottom. Kangy Kangaroo can help! Kangy holds a 6-page crinkly book and Koala teether for baby to grab onto at change time. If your little one falls in love with Kangy, she can also be detached from her stand to cuddle or take with you on your adventures.