Written by Colin Johnstone
Beyond a doubt, the best learning toys for babies are objects that they will be attracted to, want to touch and explore, and are safe for little hands and mouths.
Babies are pretty easy to please, but there are things to look for that will not only keep your baby occupied with exploring; teach them a bit about the world at the same time. Here are some things to look for when buying your baby their first toys.
—Non-toxic, safe materials. Babies love to explore and one of the ways the youngest does this is by putting everything in their mouths.
As adults, we are sometimes horrified by the items we have to pull from their grasps, but it’s just a baby’s way of learning. So if they’re going to be stuffing things in, make certain you pay attention to age limits, even if you think your baby is “advanced.”
Large objects made with non-toxic materials from reputable toy companies are always a safe bet. Don’t be discouraged if your baby puts the blocks in their mouths instead of building the Sydney Opera House.
—Pay attention to age limits. Age limits are put on toys for several reasons, both cognitive and for safety. They have been developed over time based on case studies and research, so it’s best not to second guess them.
—Simple is sometimes better. For small babies, who are just learning to grasp and understand cause and effect, simple toys are sometimes the best. Blocks and caterpillar toys can be just as fascinating as other, expensive toys.
Experienced parents learn pretty quickly the frustration of spending a lot of money on toys that don’t do much more than collect dust.
—Don’t buy used toys. As tempting as it is in this economy, try not to buy used toys. They may have broken or missing parts and may have toxic chemicals. The best baby learning toys aren’t necessarily the most expensive ones, but one that will engage your baby.
—Texture, color, shape. Babies love the feel of different textures, colors and shapes. They love to touch, and touching for a baby is learning. Buy learning toys that allow babies to explore the world’s different shapes and textures safely.
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