Wondering what to buy for your (or a friend's) precious little bump?
Well, your child will learn a huge number of things during their first year. There are so many developmental milestones that babies go through during that first year. And all the things that your baby needs to learn, can be learned through play!
Every time that anyone plays with your baby, whether it is Mum or Dad, grandparents, siblings, babysitters or friends, baby is learning about how the world works. So any toy can be a developmental toy for a baby, however there are a number of classic toys that have been given to babies for generations, and they are all perfect for helping your baby's development.
Here are the ten types of toys that will help a baby's development - and are fun to play with too.
They all make excellent gifts for a newborn baby or any baby up to 1 year old. From a classic rattle or blocks to a mobile for the cot or a mirror, each toy will help your child's development.
It has long been known that babies like to look at pictures of other babies and rather excitingly, when they look at the one in the baby mirror they move!
Later on, they will love to look at themselves with other people, and when they realise that the baby in the picture is themselves they will be fascinated to watch what they are doing.
Building toys are the perfect way for babies to learn what happens when you put one thing on top of another, and to start them off a set of soft baby blocks is a fantastic gift.. As baby grows older they can begin to practise building taller stacks. And of course your baby won't hurt themselves when their tower of soft blocks falls over.
Learning about building is really important for a new baby. I know of a baby girl who was not bought building blocks at all, and so when she was asked to put one on top of another at her 2 year check she had no idea what to do.A well designed set will grow with your child and can also teach numbers and matching skills too.
Not a phone! What I mean is a baby mobile to hang in their room, over their cot. Baby will stare at it for hours and if you, for example blow on the mobile they will soon start to copy you .
You can choose any type from an old-fashioned wooden one to a high tech programmable mobile which plays dozens of tunes. This Fisher-Price 3-in-1 Musical Mobile is similar to the one my kids had, and they loved it..
A soft baby ball has all the safety advantages as soft blocks, and you can roll it back and forward to your baby for hours (they will love this - you will tire of it LONG before they do!)
Again, baby can learn all the ball skills they need in safety. And when they surprise themselves with a really good kick or throw, it won't hurt too much!
An import developmental stage is when your baby begins to learn about "cause and effect" So when baby plays with a toy with wheels, such as a baby wooden car toy, they will discover exciting things like the fact that the amount of force that they use will affect how far the car goes, and that if they let go they will have to yell until someone finds it for them, or they learn to crawl after it.
The classic wooden Melissa & Doug Stacking Cars shown here would be a real hit with any little car fanatic!
Babies love baby cloth books because not only do they have a story read to them, the pages have different textures and make a noise, or may have pull out sections.
Baby can chew it, bang it on its head and you can still read it afterwards. Giraffe and Friends is a lovely book with crinkly pages and a built in rattle. Many of the books can also be put in the washing machine as well.
Water play is so important for kids, as it teaches them another aspect about the way that the world works, and they get clean at the same time. Any chance to play with baby bath toys will increase their understanding of the world.
Stacking cups are brilliant bath-time fun - we had a similar set to these Set of Stacking Bath Toys. As well as understanding that different sizes of cup can hold different quantities of water you can use them to pour water over baby to wash them too.
For a baby approaching 1 year old wooden baby blocks are a present that they will enjoy for years. If their older siblings/cousin/friends stop playing with them that is!
I had a set when I was a kid, and they will last for years because as baby grows they can be used to learn letters and numbers, and later to spell out simple words. My boys loved a set with a variety of shapes that allowed them to build tall towers with interesting architectural features. Oh no, actually that might have been me....
Babies love to learn that their actions have some effect, and rattles teach them that when they move their arm, the rattle makes a noise, most rattles will also double as a safe teether for baby too.
Electronic toys that play a tune when you press a button are popular for a similar reason, but much more annoying for mum and dad.
The best rattles, like this affordable Bright Starts Rattle and Teethe can also be used as a teether and can be filled with cool water to soothe baby's gums..
I would recommend that you don't go overboard on soft toys, however much fun it is to buy them. Grown-ups love buying cute soft toys, but babies like don't always appreciate them. They also can harbour lots of dust which is bad if the child suffers from allergies such as asthma and eczema. So save them for when the baby is a year or so old.
If you do want to give a soft toy to a baby, the best ones, like this classic Baby GUND My 1st Teddy Bear should be machine washable, made of soft materials and have sewn on details. Even the eyes on this bear are embroidered - cleverly!
Now that you have the toys sorted out, see your ultimate new baby shopping list - plus 5 things your should NEVER buy for a baby.
About eParenting: eParenting was started by Jacqui O'Brien in 2004. At the time her kids were 1 and 4 and kept her nice and busy. Now they are teenagers and still keeping her pretty busy!