Give a kid a new toy — almost any toy — and chances are, you’ve got a happy kid. Young children generally aren’t fussy when it comes to baby toys and kids toys, but parents should be.
Toys are more than just playthings, though, and while they should be fun, they should also be age-appropriate, stimulating, and safe.
During your baby’s first two months, she doesn’t need or want any toys. Your baby won’t even discover her own hands until she’s about two months old. Your baby may instinctively clutch a toy that you put in her hand, but she can’t really play with it. She may enjoy looking at a plaything or listening to it, but she’d much rather look at and listen to you.
From two to three months, however, when your baby’s hands open up and she first discovers them-and all the things she can do with them-toys become much more valuable as learning tools. Noisy toys are great at this age. (Just make sure they’re soft, because your baby will probably hit herself in the head with them.)
Soft rubber squeak toys, lightweight rattles, rattling bracelets, and easy-to-hold plastic keys do more than entertain your baby. They focus her attention on what her hands are doing. You can almost see the connections forming in your baby’s brain:
noise=hands -> hands=moving -> moving=me
my hands=moving=noise> look what I can do!
From about 10 to 14 weeks, your baby will enjoy taking a kitten-like swipe at toys. Hang toys of various shapes, textures, and sounds (a rattle, a fuzzy ball, a plastic or rubber ring, a small doll or stuffed animal, and so on) above your baby’s crib. Or tie a string to them and hold them above her while she lies on the floor.
When she connects with the toy, your baby will be delighted at the way it swings and the sounds it makes, if any. This activity also helps your baby make connections between what she does with her hands and what happens.