There is an enormous degree of choice in this area, and the “essentials” change rapidly as your baby grows both physically and mentally. We actively pick toys, activities and learning tools that stimulate physical, mental and sensory development. As a general rule throughout your child’s life, buy for ages slightly older than she actually is (while being cautious of small, moving parts) – not only to allow your child to grow into things, but because manufacturers seem to be overly cautious in the suggested ages for their products.
Buy toys that stimulate all the senses with mirrors, different textures, crinkly sounds and music. You will obviously receive some baby toys as gifts but we would recommend buying at least 5 to start off with that emphasise different aspects of cognitive, sensory, and physical development.
As baby gets older, you will need a new set of toys designed for older children. You will also need a wider variety to keep baby stimulated as attention spans are quite short at this age. We think a minimum of 10 is a good starting point. Toys do not need to be fancy, they just need to entertain.
For many of us, the things we remember most from our childhood is a favourite stuffed animal. Why not get your own child a few to cuddle with or just to have as collectors items? The great thing about soft toys is that they are often still firm favourites even with much older children.
Puzzles, Legos and Building Blocks
It is never too early to introduce baby to simple puzzles and building blocks (avoid small parts). These encourage spatial awareness and understanding of how things fit together – even if your baby will not play with them on their own until 6m-1y of age. Look for bright colours and and simple designs that inspire babies to touch, explore and experiment. For parents interested in baby’s mental development, puzzles and building blocks promote problem solving, matching skills, manual dexterity, fine motor skills, imagination and creativity. Start by encouraging your baby to simply build stacks and in a few years they will be challenging themselves with complex and endless new creations and working hard to put the pieces together to achieve their visions. There is a reason why building blocks and Legos have stood the test of time even with all of today’s modern new inventions!