Baby Toys and Learning Toys for Ages 0-12 Months

toys for 0-12 month babyIt can help to think of the stages of a child’s development in terms of video games. Therefore, you could say that 0-12 months is like the preview trailer.

Your child is doing a lot of looking, trying to take everything in, touching, smelling, tasting, and listening too. They are absorbing as much information as possible to get you ready to start the game.

Therefore, to help our children develop through their preview stage, we need to give them loads of new information, and expose them to as much of adult life as we can.

Aged 0-3 months, your child will be largely immobile and their vision will be very limited too. Right now they are limited to looking and listening, and the things that are most stimulating are contrasting colors, and things held 20-30cm from their face.

At this age too many toys can be overstimulating, so try and establish a daily routine of playing with one or two toys only, at specific times.

You will know your child is in this stage if they are not moving much, not reaching for toys, and not smiling or laughing.

After the age of 3 months, your child will slowly develop their senses and become able to move on their own. They use these limited senses and mobility to explore and accumulate information about the world around them.

Make sure they get to see a variety of colors, feel a wide range of textures, and hear many sounds in their toys at this age. They will learn how movement can cause sound, how sounds and textures can be connected, and how things that are different colors or shapes may do different things.

A wide range of textures also promotes the development of grip and can be very soothing for teething babies. There is no such thing as too many toys at this age, but to avoid overstimulating their minds, use only one or two toys per play session, and keep rotating them

You will know your child is in this stage if they are trying to roll and hold themselves up, reaching for toys, and laughing and smiling at new experiences

Toy 1: Activity Boards

What are they?

Activity boards are cloth, wooden or plastic toys which feature all sorts of fun attachments and details. A busy box with spinning elements, squeakers, and bright colors could do the trick, but so could a nice soft mat with a bell, crinkly bits, and patterns.

What do they do?

These toys stimulate all your child’s senses, and provide a variety of exciting options for when their attention span is short.

When will they grow out of this toy?

Your child will start using activity boards and busy toys as soon as they can move. They may even enjoy looking at them until 3 months. They will progress onto more specialized toys by age 3-4, but until then they may still enjoy their activity board.

What features do I need to look for?

A good combination of sounds, textures, and colors, and easy, graspable parts for tiny hands.

Can I make one myself?

Yes! You can assemble a wooden activity board with hanging toys, things to pull, and bright painted patterns. But the best ones are definitely the electronic plastic ones.

Do I need to be cautious of anything?

Make sure your activity board is topple-proof and has no small parts, as some are not designed well for small children. If you are not sure what you’re doing, always go for the ones in your child’s recommended age range.

Toy 2: Rattle

Baby RattlesWhat are they

Rattles come in all shapes, sizes, and textures. You will need to find the right one for your baby, preferably one with a sound, shape, and mix of colors they like. Many babies have more than one.

What do they do?

Rattles encourage babies to move their limbs and let them know that their movements have consequences

When will they grow out of this toy?

By the time they’re moving around, most babies want other toys, but some will still pick up a rattle from time to time until they’re 2

What features do I need to look for?

For younger babies, especially under 3 months, consider sock rattles and wrist rattles. These require no grabbing at all. As your baby gets older, first go for small, light, soft rattles, so they can grip them and so that if they drop them on top of their own head it won’t hurt. Then just scale the rattles as your baby grows.

Can I make one myself?

You can make a wide range of rattling items. Consider putting beans or a bell in a small box, cutting a toy open, and sewing the box inside. Some babies aged 6 months and up love a metal “drum style” formula tub full of beans, with the lid taped down.

Do I need to be cautious of anything

Make sure the rattle is well-sealed as the contents can be a choking hazard. If it cracks, replace immediately.

Toy 3: Stuffed Animals

What are they?

Stuffed animals are fabric replicas of animals or cartoons, full of polyfiller, down, or in some cases cotton. These animals are very light, squishy, and warm.

What do they do?

Stuffed animals, or any stuffed toy, really, are a baby favorite. They’re big and easy to grip, but also light and easy to lift. This encourages your baby to play with them. You will also notice that age-appropriate toys are rounded, firm, and soft, which will provide comfort for breastfed babies.

When will they grow out of this toy?

Most children will still love stuffed animals well into their childhood, or even their teens. And many babies develop a special bond with a special stuffed toy, so that one will be irreplaceable.

What features do I need to look for?

Look for stuffed toys that are big but not too heavy, have no small parts, not even beaded eyes, and have under 6” rope-like limbs, for baby to grip. You want something baby can play with.

Can I make one myself?

Yes, if you are good at sewing you can easily make a nice, friendly stuffed toy for your baby. There are plenty of sewing patterns available online.

Do I need to be cautious of anything?

Never leave a baby under a year of age alone in a cot with a stuffed toy, blanket, or anything else. It should just be your baby in their clothes, maybe a sleep sack. Stuffed toys in the cot are both an asphyxiation risk, and a SIDS risk.

Toy 4: Teething Toys

What are they?

teethers for babyTeething toys are a wide range of toys designed for babies to chew on when they are teething. They come in fabric, wood, rubber, and plastic, and are often textured with bobbles and ridges for extra bite.

What do they do?

It is unclear whether chewing provides pain relief for a teething baby, or is just something they instinctively do to help ease the tooth out. Either way, teething babies have an irrepressible urge to chew. So best case scenario your teething toys will be giving your baby some safe, healthy pain relief. Or at the very least, it will spare your furniture and hand.

When will they grow out of this toy?

Once teething is over almost all babies are done with teething rings, although some turn teething into a habit. Many babies actually chew less and less as each tooth comes out, and will stop abruptly as the last is on its way out

What features do I need to look for?

Look for something with ridges and bumps. Make sure they don’t come off by giving them a light bite yourself, after buying it, of course. Seriously, it’s the best way. You may also want to look for ones that are easy for your little one to grip, and ones you can chill in the fridge for extra pain relief

Can I make one myself?

No. Teething toys are specially designed to make them safe, so no bits fall off, and no toxic elements are present to affect your baby. If you are really stuck for teething materials and your baby is over six months, consider chilled chopped vegetables, like carrots.

Do I need to be cautious of anything?

Just make sure it’s BPA-free and that no bits fall off

Toy 5: Touch Books

What are they?

There are two types of touch book. The first is for younger babies, aged 3-8 months, and is made of fabric. This fabric may be printed with a story, or just have scenes printed or stitched onto it. The fabric will have nice textures for baby to grab. The second is for babies ages 6 months and up and is made of cardboard with fabric and plastic elements for your baby to touch.

What do they do?

It gives your baby a chance to explore their environment by grabbing and stroking the different textures in their book. Fabric ones are also great teething aides.

When will they grow out of this toy?

By the time they are 1 they may have outgrown the fabric ones, and by 2-3 they will be starting to lose interest in the card ones. If the books are interactive they may last longer.

What features do I need to look for?

Short, simple stories, educational pictures, and a very wide range of tactile and interactive elements will all make the book a hit with your baby.

Can I make one myself?

Yes, you can sew your baby a tactile book of their own, including elements like squeakers and bells, to keep them focused on handling it.

Do I need to be cautious of anything?

Do not leave soft books in the cot with your baby. And don’t buy books marked 3+, even if they look innocent. Some may have small parts that are a choking hazard for babies under the age of 3.

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