Welcome to another edition of Tips, Ideas & Advice!
This week, we answer a question from Mel of A Wide Line…., who asked:
What are the best developmental toys for babies/toddlers of all ages?
Here are some great ideas from some experienced mothers.
Older siblings! My girls are FASCINATED by their big brothers, sometimes to my dismay.
If the above isn’t possible, a drawer of goodies by wherever you are. In the kitchen I have a baby drawer that holds lots of ‘stuff’ they can pull out, chew on, shake (tupperware filled with beans), throw, etc. Makes a huge mess and brings lots of laughs and exploration.
Lastly,experiences and other people – I always always underestimate the power of others, they are learning always from other people.
So, no ‘things’ but what works for me!
I think that anything your child shows interest in is a good tool for development. Usually TV and electronics are not necessary. Things that promote creativity, the use of motor skills, independence, and sensory are all good.
Toys do not have to be expensive. For example I just wrote about craft balls and how my daughter loves playing with them. They are a great sensory item and she can sort them, play with them and learn the colours.
My view of this is that the best toys are the ones that stimulate the child to explore and learn. I prefer toys that allow for imagination over toys that only do one thing or do all the work for the child. Blocks are good – soft ones for babies and stackable blocks for toddlers. I have a set of foam blocks of different sizes and shapes that are always a big hit.
Things that stimulate the senses are great for babies: visual stimulation comes from bold blacks and whites and, later on, bright colours; toys with different textures are great for oral and tactile stimulation.
There’s no need to buy expensive toys to give babies and toddlers everything they need to learn and grow. Buy second hand toys, or make your own! A box filled with items of different sizes, colours and textures can be a lot of fun to explore. I have always had hanging pockets and baskets around the house filled with interesting toys and ‘non-toys’ for Jack to play with. I like to change up the contents of these containers from time to time. He loves these surprises.
Of course, one of the best things for babies and toddlers are books. I have quite a few children’s book recommendations on my book blog.
JDaniel’s favorite was cardboard boxes as a toddler. He loved to build, climb into and writie on them.
Books! Half the time my kids didn’t pay attention but I kept on reading because I know that that more I read to them the better off they’d be as far as language skills & reading later on.
Touch & feel books – Andrew likes these and there one of the few books that he’ll sit down with me. There are all sorts of things in his tractor book to feel like tires, bales of hay, and things like that.
Puzzles – I have a couple of the Melissa & Doug wooden ones where you just place the pegged piece back in it’s space (all the spaces are the same) but Andrew has fun with it and mixes and matches up the animals.
Anything that you can sort, stack, or put back like a square in the square hole, etc.
Mirrors – this was the only way we could get Andrew to do tummy time. I bought a baby mirror and would put it where he could look down and see himself.
It may be surprising, but one of the items that all my kids have not only loved, but learned from without fail: good old fashioned Flash Cards! I know; it sounds so basic and boring compared with all the musical and light up offerings out there, but perhaps that is why they work. I have an assortment of flash cards for various stages of development – colourful pictures, letters, numbers, shapes, right to words and math. I have never been the type to “push” the cards, they are simply there amongst all the other stuff, and during our play time, they will eventually gravitate towards them.
I like ‘evergreen’ kind of toys such as:
Angela of Tiaras and Trucks (@tiaras_trucks):
Lacing Beads in a Box (Melissa and Doug toys) were great for working on fine motor skills. As Abbey got better with those, we moved onto pipe cleaners and smaller beads to make bracelets and necklaces.
Dylan loves the Imaginarium stacking train
Abbey is also getting really into Memory (the game).
Thank you all for contributing your wonderful tips, ideas and advice. If you don’t already, do read these ladies’ blogs and follow them on Twitter.
A little note about this series: I’m considering putting Tips, Ideas & Advice on the backburner for a little while. Collecting and collating information is far more time consuming than writing a post, and following my post about less is more, I think shelving this series for a while might be the way to go.
I’m also realizing that following my first tips post that took off and had tons of responses to the question of the week, things have slowed down. I don’t get any new questions or many emails with tips. I do understand that people are busy and it is asking a lot. But the series can’t run without reader engagement.
So, it’s a conundrum. I love the idea, but the execution, frankly, is tedious and the lack of engagement, disheartening.
Do you think I should stop running these series? Do you enjoy reading these tips? Do you find them helpful?