Best infant toys for development
A newborn doesn’t need many toys, especially the candy-colored stuffed animals they are likely to accumulate as gifts. In fact, it’s safer to keep an infant’s crib and play area free of toys. But when you do buy toys for your baby girl, look them over carefully. All toys should have smooth edges and be nontoxic, nonbreakable, and washable. Never give a baby a toy smaller than 15⁄8 inches across that can be swallowed (check all parts that may fall off and become a choking hazard). Cut off any ribbons and strings, and check all toys occasionally to be sure they are in good repair.
You may also be interested in: Happiness can be learned from the cradle
IT’S ALL IN THE BRAIN
Even before birth, there are differences between the male and female brain. The brain is 10 percent smaller in mass in girls than in boys, but the girl’s corpus callosum (which connects the two hemispheres of the brain and helps coordinate the activities of the left and right hemisphere) is larger. The female brain produces more serotonin—a quieting agent, which may explain why the female fetus does not seem to be as active as the male.
Given the chance, a baby will turn any object even a yogurt cup—into a toy. But certain toys are particularly helpful in stimulating baby development. Here is a list of toys that are worth considering for your newborn:
- Mobile: A wind-up or electric mobile visible from the crib can give your daughter something interesting to look at while she’s lying on her back. Many mobiles also play music. Be sure the mobile is securely fastened, out of her reach, and not hanging directly over the crib (just in case it falls). Crib mobiles should be removed by the time your daughter is able to get on her hands and knees, usually when she is about five or six months old. A mobile visible from the changing table can also help keep her amused during diaper changes.Even for newborn babies, a mobile hung 8–10 in (20–25 cm) above the crib stimulates vision.
- Rattle: Once your daughter can grasp something, she’ll love rattles, especially if they have parts that spin or otherwise move. But buy your rattles with caution: Avoid those with ball-shaped ends. Check for small ends that could extend into the back of her mouth. Take rattles and other small objects out of the crib or playpen when she sleeps. And remember that, like pacifiers, rattles should never be fastened to a cord around your daughter’s neck. The sound a rattle makes stimulates your baby to learn about cause and effect. Once he can grasp it he finds that shake = noise.
- Padded play mats placed on the floor, often with segments that crinkle or squeak, are fun for babies who cannot yet crawl.
- Floor Gyms provide things for girls to grab and bat while they lie on their backs on the floor.
- Building blocks Teach touch, grip, and stacking.
- Music and rhymes Classical music helps math, logic, and speech. Nursery rhymes and clapping games help talking and friendliness.
- Books and stories Introduce books and tell stories to your baby as early as possible—leave a cloth book in his crib.
Baby swings are semi reclining seats that hang on rigid arms from a four-legged frame. Electric or wind-up versions are available. Babies differ widely in their reaction to swings, so it’s best to try them out before buying one, especially because they take up a lot of floor space. If you do decide to buy a swing, check it carefully for safety.The base should have nonskid, sturdy legs. It must also have a seat belt and crotch restraint to hold his squirmy body in place. I prefer a battery-operated one over the wind-up version because you can reset it without making noise, which could wake your son. An adjustable seat is also a plus so you can recline it for your newborn and raise it as his neck gets stronger.
TOYS AND OTHER ITEMS TO AVOID
- Pillows, quilts, sheepskins, soft mattresses, or any other kind of soft bedding. Also, stuffed animals or other soft toys should be kept out of the crib or bassinet. Keeping the baby’s sleeping area free of such objects appears to lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which for unknown reasons is higher in baby boys.
- Tub seats. These are intended for use in a bathtub by babies old enough to sit up. But experts advise against using them: They may tempt a parent to leave the baby alone in the tub, which can be extremely dangerous.
- Talcum (baby) powder. If inhaled, it can irritate the lungs.
- Latex balloons. Uninflated or broken, they pose a choking risk.
We recommend reading the article: What are the best infant toys