When Should Babies Start Playing With Toys
One of my guilty pleasures nowadays is shopping for clothes and toys for my little boy. Everything just seems so cute and colorful. I admit I wasn’t much of a shopper before becoming a mom, but now, it’s like I want to buy everything.
But the thing is, there are several instances when instead of squealing with delight, my son wouldn’t care that much about his new toy.
Sure, he gets pumped up and excited to see something new but after a while, he discards and ignores it. And well, that’s a big bummer for me.
Why? Is he too young for those? Or is it a tad bit late and he needs more advanced playthings? And more importantly, when do babies start playing with toys? As early as two weeks or do we have to wait for him to turn a few months older?
It’s Not A Matter Of When But What
We have this thing called age-appropriate toys. So basically, to ask at what age they should start playing with toys is wrong. The right question is: what toy should they play with at this particular age?
You see, they have developmental milestones, and there are toys which can help them fulfill or realize those. I’m sure you probably realize by now that toy shopping is a pretty serious business. It’s more than just for fun.
The toys should stimulate them mentally and physically and at the same time, must be safe for them to use. Case in point: toys will small parts pose as choking hazards for babies less than three years old.
In fact, according to child psychologist Vicki Panaccione, Ph. D.
Toys should be thought of as developmental learning tools.
How To Choose The Right Toys?
1. How Old Is The Baby?
For example, babies less than six months love bright colors. They are still starting to explore, and aside from your face (which is one of their favorite things to look at), they get fascinated with stuff they can hold, touch, or even suck.
For this reason, they prefer rattles, soft dolls, and stuffed toys, mobiles with music, soft books, and even wind chimes.
2. What Is The Baby's Skill Level?
Their skill level is pretty easy to gauge for parents. They would often start with something easy like little toys they can reach out from the crib or rocker. At this time, they wouldn’t appreciate building blocks that much.
Don’t Take The Easy Route
As a parent raising a baby in the digital age, I don’t find myself immune to the temptation of technology. Like for stay-at-home mothers, multitasking can sometimes get the best of you.
There are days when everything needs to be done all at the same time – do the laundry, cook lunch, clean the house. And in the midst of it is a crying baby who feels neglected and demands your attention.
So you try to soothe them by turning the TV on or letting them watch YouTube videos on your iPad.
Well, guess what, that’s not the same as letting them play with matching blocks or sorting stacks.
You can try and convince yourself that the videos are educational but keep in mind that exposing kids below seven years old to technology on a regular basis MAY cause behavioral problems.
Keep Toy Shopping To A Minimum
Tell me if this sounds familiar: you seldom go out, and when you do, you often find yourself in toy stores with a basket full of playthings for your little ones. Yes, I’ve been there, and I’ve done that.
There’s just some excitement in seeing their faces light up when you come home bringing stuff for them. However, this is not beneficial for them.
For one, it will be too overwhelming. It’s much like buying five pairs of shoes at once – you wouldn’t know which one to wear first. Two, they’ll be unable to focus and therefore may not fully enjoy and explore the toy.
Like if you give them a shape-sorter. It will take time for them to figure it out and if you buy a new one immediately, they’ll lose the momentum in learning and will likely just go for the new toy.
I suggest a list of minimum toy here.
Examples Of Toys You Could Buy
0 - 3 months: Sock and wrist rattles, mobiles, wind chimes, and soft books
3 - 6 months: Squeaky rubber toys, soft stuffed animals, teething rings and play mats
6 - 9 months: Board or cloth books, stacking rings and blocks, balls, and push toys
9 - 12 months: Shape sorter, wooden blocks, pail and shovel
12 - 18 months: Slide, nontoxic washable crayons, picture books and ride-on cars
18 - 24 months: Toy guitar or drum, puzzles, and train sets
(You can also see: 15 Best Toys For 18-24 Month Old Toddler)
24 - 36 months: Giant building blocks, simple board game, books and art supplies
Remember that fun and safe should go hand in hand when picking out the right toys for your kids. There’s no need to compromise one or the other.
- Toys should be nontoxic, covered with lead-free paint and should not contain potential choking hazards.
- Never forget to remove the plastic cover before letting your kids play with the toys.
- Look out for sharp edges or points such as wires which can potentially cut or shock.
- Be careful for toys with ribbons, cords or strings since kids can easily entangle themselves.
- Avoid toys with magnets because it can fall off and may be swallowed by smaller children.
- Let them help you put back the toys in their containers after playing. It will serve as good training for them and will also prevent falls caused by accidentally stepping on the blocks or legos.
At the end of the day, we only want what is best for our kids. More so for first-time parents, we want everything to be perfect, but there is no such thing. Even in the matter of choosing the right toys, it’s not a one-size-fits-all.
Babies develop their skills at their pace, and it’s our job to determine which plaything matches their needs. Just don’t forget the three things to consider: fun, stimulating and safe.
Have fun toy shopping!
Right now, you should also visit this article about other milestone in the development of children as: when can baby use jumperoo?