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Choosing Toys for Babies

By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care and The No-Cry Sleep Solution

You may not be sure what kind of toys, or how many, your baby should have. It's likely that you hear conflicting advice that runs from one extreme to another! It's either: "Don't give your baby toys - he'll be spoiled," to "Give your baby lots of toys - they develop his brain." So…which is it?

Both sides of this debate have valid points. A baby does indeed learn from the things she plays with, and the more things she has access to, the more she can learn. With this in mind, many parents spend a fortune buying toys; however, many toys hold a child's attention for three or four days, only to be relegated to the bottom of the toybox or back of a shelf.

Babies learn about their world by using all five of their senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Toys engage and refine these senses by:

  • Helping your baby learn how to control his movements and body parts

  • Helping your baby figure out how things work

  • Showing your baby how he can control things in his world

  • Teaching your baby new ideas

  • Building your baby's muscle control, coordination, and strength

  • Teaching your baby how to use his imagination

  • Showing your baby how to solve simple problems

  • Helping your baby learn how to play by himself

  • Setting the foundation for learning how to share and cooperate with others

Experts agree that babies need a variety of toys to enrich their lives and encourage learning. While your baby can learn from expensive store-bought toys, she can also learn from a crumpled piece of paper, a set of measuring spoons, an empty box, or a leaf. Everything is new and interesting to a baby, and if you open your eyes to the many wonders in our world, you'll see that you don't have to spend a fortune to keep your baby happy, interested, and learning.

What "home-grown" toys are best?
As you view the whole world as a bottomless toybox, here are some tips to consider:

  • Search for items of different weights, materials, textures, flexibility, sizes, shapes, colors, and smells. (Most store-bought baby toys are primary-colored plastic; that's why your metal keys on a leather key ring are so very appealing - they're different!)

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Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen


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