Toys and children

Babies love to play and toys not only entertain your baby but are vital in helping develop motor and social skills.   
Play helps children learn about themselves and their understanding of their expanding physical and social worlds.
 It gives children opportunities to figure out how things work, how to get along with others and to try on new roles.
 Play stimulates and enhances creativity and imagination.
Play provides a rich resource for language development and social competence.
  Play encourages thinking and problem-solving skills.
  Play develops perceptual-motor skills (fine and gross, such as eye-hand coordination and balance) and helps develop strength and coordination.
  Play is the integration of language, social, cognitive, imaginative and physical skills.
  Play fosters self-esteem, self-direction and values.
  Play helps children learn and practice social skills such as sharing, negotiation and cooperation.
  Play develops curiosity and increases attention span.
Choosing the right toys
If you want your baby and toddler to get the most out of a new toy consider if it’s appropriate for the child’s age and development.
Choose toys that fit your baby’s level of learning. Toys should challenge but not cause frustration.
Toy labelling is based on a child’s physical and mental ability, play needs, interests and safety, so check that the toy is appropriate for your child’s age.For example, toys with small parts can present choking hazards for children less than three years of age.
Stimulate the Senses
First toys and activities should be designed to stimulate your child’s sensory development.
Toys that have interesting sights, sounds, and textures help your babies explore and learn.
As your baby starts to grow you want them to become aware of how to make things happen, toys should be easy to activate and encourage a child’s interaction, such as a baby gym or activity centre.
If a child shows no interest in a toy he is probably not ready for it. Put the new toy away and reintroduce it at a later time.
Always Put Safety First
Keep safety in mind when selecting a toy for your baby.
Make sure the toy is sturdy, a safe size, and will not come apart easily, presenting a choking or cutting hazard.
The following are some examples of toys suitable for the different ages.
1-6 months
At 1 month all a baby needs are mobiles, crib music boxes and soft toys.
Mobiles are pretty but they also help your child focus and improve vision. Watching objects move up above stimulates visual tracking, and if your mobile offers music or sounds, that can enhance a baby’s listening skills.
At 6 months your child will be increasingly mobile and toys that that will learn them to coordinate their arms and legs such as rolling toys will encourage them into crawling. Other useful toys at this stage are action reaction toys that develop eye-hand coordination through a reward system (a button is pushed and makes a sound) so the child repeats the exercise.
Toys to encourage crawling
Action/reaction toys
Stacking toys
Toys for imitative play with familiar objects
Baby books for patting, pointing and talking
Textured ball
Recorded songs and music
12-24 months
By 13 months, about half of all babies walk, but most still fall over if they lose momentum.
They are more purposeful in the way they explore objects.
They start to treat objects in appropriate ways: cuddle teddy bears and press the button on a jack-in-the-box.
 First words generally relate to objects: cats, dogs and buses are popular, as are sounds associated with food such as “Yummm
From 12 to 18 months your child will become interested in push and pull toys, play sets, puzzles with knobs and toys that encourage early learning.
Push and pull toys help balance and gives them confidence by practicing walking skills.
Themed playsets  give a new world cut down to size. Helps them, control the action and use their imagination.
Early learning toys   expose your child to the basic building blocks of learning … simple concepts like letters, numbers, shapes and colours.
Remember that toys add magic and excitement to a child’s life but that does not mean they have to be loaded down with them, having a variety of different types of toys is what’s important.