With so many toys on the market, how can you possibly know which ones are best for your baby?
It's an important question. Because for little ones, playing is about more than entertainment, it's their primary means of learning and developing. (That's why at One Step Ahead and Leaps and Bounds, we are so committed to providing developmentally beneficial toys.)
In just a few, quicksilver years, your helpless infant will become a competent youngster-walking, talking, socializing, reasoning. In fact, within the first four years of life, children develop a full 50% of their adult intelligence! That's how fast their brains are growing.
Giving your baby stimulating, age-appropriate toys will help your child develop faster and more fully-cognitively, physically, creatively and more. Understanding how babies learn is the key to knowing what toys to provide.
Babies are born virtually programmed to learn. Before birth, genetics determine how the brain is "wired." Neurons travel to different parts of the brain, forming connections, called synapses, that await stimulation.
Once a baby is born, every experience-sight, sound, touch, taste and smell-helps stimulate those synapses and create trillions more. The more complex these interconnections, the brighter a child will be. By providing your child with early stimulation and a wide range of experiences, you can accelerate your baby's development.
Even the tiniest newborn is poised to soak up sensory data like a sponge-and in doing so, stimulate brain development.
A newborn's vision is limited, which is why tiny infants respond best to black-and-white objects, bright colors and bold graphics. But vision develops quickly, along with motor control. As early as the second month, babies will begin studying their hands and swiping at objects. Most begin rolling over between two and six months.
During this period, babies discover cause and effect-shaking, banging and pushing every object within reach. Hand-eye coordination improves; favorite games are "clap hands," "pat-a-cake" and "peek-a-boo." Most babies begin crawling around seven months and by ten months, many are starting to "cruise." In addition, they begin to put sounds together to form simple words.
Many children begin walking around their first birthday, and with this exciting new skill comes a strong desire to explore. Most toddlers are goal-oriented and driven to experiment. They begin imitating grown-ups physically and verbally. Through constant activity, they begin strengthening large muscles and improving fine motor coordination.
At this age, tots begin using their imagination. Children engage in imitative and make-believe play and problem solving strategies. They can match objects by shape and color, follow simple instructions, and dance to music. Language also explodes around 18 months, and toddlers acquire new words at a mind-boggling rate.
Fine motor coordination is on the upswing! Now kids are ready for arts and crafts projects, simple sports and beginning board games. Children this age are very responsive to music, videos and books. By the time they reach their third birthdays, most kids are fluent talkers. With this growing competency, many are ready for more "big kid" toys.
You'll find hundreds of beneficial, developmentally sound toys for babies, toddlers and children at One Step Ahead and Leaps and Bounds. All are tested for safety and play value, and many are award-winners. And we always indicate age appropriateness...so you can choose the right toy for the right age.
For toys for babies birth - three years, click here. For outdoor toys for kids ages three and up, click here. For indoor toys for kids ages three and up, click here.View More Articles
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