When you walk into toys stores, baby care product stores or some local bookshops, you will be overwhelmed by the variety of the toys that are available. In this article, we aim to provide readers a guide on how to choose appropriate toys for their babies.
Must-have feature - Safety
On 13th Dec 2012, one company had to recall its toys as one government agency detected excessive level of chemicals on its toy after one parent complained to the authority that her child became sick after using one toy. This incident tells us that safety should always come first when choosing toys for our baby.
Common harmful chemicals that can be found on toys include lead and phthalates. Unfortunately, our naked eyes cannot detect these harmful chemicals. One way to avoid this kind of danger is to buy toys from reliable sources. Some responsible merchants do send their toys regularly to government agencies for checking.
(ii) No Small Part
Many babies like to put objects into their mouths, choking can then easily occur. Hence, you should not buy toys that have separate small parts or small parts that can be easily loosened.
(iii) No glass or magnet part
Glass or magnet may break into small pieces when you baby shakes it or throws it around.
(iv) Not heavy
For many babies, especially the younger ones, they may drop their toys onto their legs while playing. If the toys are too heavy, your baby may get hurt.
Unforeseen danger may occur if you choose toys that are not age appropriate for your child. These toys is either too heavy for your child to handle or dangerous for your child to operate.
(vi) Secured cases
Battery operated toys should have battery cases that are secured with screws so that the kids cannot force open them. Battery poses serious risks including choking and poisoning.
Must-have feature - more action from baby
You should buy those toys that require more action from your baby. Your baby is not learning or learning very little if the toys do not need any action or response from your baby. This kind of toy should be considered as entertaining, not developmental.
Only through action, your baby will learn more about the cause-effect, problem solving and develop his or her imagination and creativity.
Toys - Must Cater to the Development Needs of Baby
1. Below 6 months
At this stage, toys should help baby to develop his or her vision and motor skill.
Toys at this stage should have high color contrast; this can help your child to develop some basic understanding about color recognition.
At this stage, you can also buy those toys for your baby to feel, look at, hold and shake. This can help your baby to build gross motor skill.
Colorful banner, rattles, baby safe mirror, hand puppet are ideal toys at this stage.
2. 6 to 12 months
When your child reaches 6 to 12 months old, he or she starts to crawl and is learning about the cause and effect. Hence, toys at this stage should encourage your child to move or crawl and also help baby to learn about cause and effect.
Activity centers, musical and sound-making toys are good toys to buy. These toys may make a sound once your baby moves an object or presses a button.
3. 12 - 24 months
Toys at this stage should help babies to develop language skill and social skills. It is also found that children at these ages like to engage in pretend play. Pretend play help children to develop language skill and social skill; Pretend play also help children to bond with other kids or family members and has a positive impact on his or her emotional growth.
Toys phone, cooking toys, push-along toys, doll house are good toys for your baby at these ages.
4. 24 - 36 months
24 to 36 months is a period which your baby is developing his creativity or imagination. Toys at this stage should help to cater to this need of your baby.
Role-play toys are still a good choice. Building block or construction set is also helpful in your child's creativity development. Other than this, finger paints, chalk boards are also good for your child.
'Toys' at homes
As long as it does not possess any danger to your child, you can always give household items like television remote control to your baby. These 'toys' not only help baby to develop the fine motor skill, but also help him or her to understand how the real stuff around him or her works.