I am the mommy of a fifteen-month-old, like most babies, she is constantly on the move, touching and putting in her mouth, everything in her sight. To encourage her mobility and exploration, I enlist the help of toys and learning aids. I have used toys and learning aids since she was born to help her reach her developmental milestones.
I have compiled a list of my favorite toys for the different developmental stages.
Newborn (0-2 months)
Based on a newborn’s development, they would not require toys as they are fresh from the oven and have not developed the ability to grasp or respond to many stimuli. As such, a newborn would only need a pacifier.
As the name suggests, soothers help to soothe babies because the sucking motion “lowers the heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels”. Scientists have even discovered that pacifiers help to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
I was hesitant about giving my newborn a pacifier as it can be habit-forming. Babies may become reliant on the pacifier to the point where they are not able to self-soothe.
Additionally, introducing pacifiers too soon can cause nipple confusion. However, I folded when my daughter was around two months when it became increasingly difficult for her to calm down. The pacifier made a world of difference.
Introducing a pacifier is a personal choice that every mother has to make for her child. Just make sure that you are armed with the facts before you do.
If you are ready to introduce the pacifier, Amazon has several options from which to choose based on the age of your child:
For 0-3 months
This pacifier is well made and perfect for newborns. “it is made of hospital-grade, BPA-free and latex-free silicone for strength, comfort, and durability”.
For 3-6 months
“This pacifier designed to prevent nipple confusion provides a smooth transition to a pacifier. The ergonomic shape is made to fit comfortably around your baby’s mouth, promoting healthy oral development. This pacifier is BPA- and Phthalate-free”
Infant (2-12 months)
As my daughter got older, she became more aware and more responsive, as such, she needed toys that were fun, interactive and would assist her in reaching her milestones. There were so many options available, however, I narrowed it down to the following:
Rattles are baby toys that are produced from wood, cloth, or plastic. They are brightly colored and maybe in the shape of keys, animals, shapes, or flowers. Rattles make sounds when shaken to not only entertain babies but to promote eye co-ordination and the development of motor skills.
Some rattles can double as teethers as they are developed with textured surfaces that allow babies “to chew and gnaw on them to help soothe their gums when they cut new teeth”.
I love the way my daughter responded to rattles. It allowed her to develop the ability to grasp items and was able to follow the rattle with her eyes whenever I moved and shook it.
These are the ones I like:
I got this rattle for my daughter when she was three months old, within weeks of interacting with it, she was able to grasp it completely as the little handles are idle for little hands.
This toy doubled as a rattle and teether. My daughter loved the bright colors. She loved throwing it around as it made noises whenever it is moved.
Baby teethers are used to soothe babies’ gums when their teeth start coming in, at around 3 to 7 months of age. Babies get comfort and relief by chewing on toys, like teethers, as their tender gums might feel better when light pressure is applied.
It is argued that babies not only put teethers in their mouths to relieve achy gums. “They do so because it is part of child development. All that mouthing and munching encourages a baby to move their tongue inside their mouth. This gives the child awareness of their mouth. These motions help to lay the foundation for learning speech sounds as babies begin to babble while learning to say their first words”.
Teethers are made from rubber, silicone, plastic, or wood. There are hundreds on the market, however, not all are created equally. Some are ergonomic with multiple textured surfaces and vibrant colors, while others are poorly designed with dull colors and difficult for babies to mauver.
When choosing a teether, you must ensure that the teethers are safe for the babies to put in their moths, i.e. teeters that are phthalate and BPA-free and made from non-toxic paint”.
These are the ones I would recommend:
My daughter loved the different textures as each texture provided a different type of relief. At fifteen months, she still plays with it.
My daughter loved this, she loved chewing on the soft bristles as it soothes her gums whenever they ached. Even at 15months, she still loves to chew on it. I would not recommend giving this to your baby until around seven months as they may put it too far in their mouth.
As a child, my parents could not afford to get me all the toys I wanted, as such like a lot of parents, I’m living vicariously through my daughter! I loved stuffed animals and when I saw the Bedtime Originals Plush Toy, I had to get it for my daughter. However, she was not able to interact with it until she was around 8 months.
It should be noted, however, that experts advise that babies should not be given stuffed animals before 12 months as they “can be deadly because they can potentially cover a baby’s face and cause suffocation”.
I placed the toy away from my baby so that she did not come into direct contact with it without my knowledge. At 15months, it is now one of her favorite chew toys.
These are the stuffed toys I would recommend:
This toy, “cupcake” as we call her, is super cute. It is a plush toy made from soft polyester, it is so soft and adorable, great for make-belief tea parties and so much more. My daughter and I are in love with her.
I am a tad bit traditional; I love sesame street as a child, I used to run home from school just to catch an episode. However, when Tickle Me Elmo came out in 1996, I wanted one so badly, but my parents could not afford it. Fast-forward twenty-five years of course I’m going to get one for my daughter. I may secretly cuddle it when no one is looking, not making any promises.
An Elmo toy is a classic and may serve as a keepsake or an addition to any child’s stuffed animal collection.
I have not yet purchased this toy, but it’s on my list. I fell in love with how adorable it looked. I knew my daughter would love to cuddle with it. It is made with embroidered facial features that are safe for babies.
Books “teaches a baby about communication, introduces concepts such as numbers, letters, colors, and shapes in a fun way while building listening, memory, and vocabulary skills and gives babies information about the world around them”.
The importance and benefits of reading to babies from they are in the womb promote brain activity, early literacy skills, and language development. It has been proven that the first five years of a child’s life are crucial to their development. What and how a child learns will impact their holistic social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development.
These are the books I recommend:
This book was very well made. It allows babies to learn different textures. My daughter especially loved playing with the page with the rabbit. The fur felt like the real thing, a very interactive book.
I love the message of this book, it resonated with me. It makes the reader very emotional especially the ones who have waited a long time to become mommies. This one is more for me than my daughter as she is still not able to appreciate it. Nevertheless, she loves looking at, scratching, and occasionally tries to eat the beautifully illustrated pages.
I loved this book; it took me back to the simpler days. It is very interactive and has bright beautiful pages that grab the attention of curious little people. The story is about friendships and teaches babies about colors and encourages them to explore the world around them.
If you intend to keep this book intact for more than a couple of days, it is encouraged that you only allow your child to use it with supervision as the popup pages are attractive and yell “Put me in your mouth!”.
Every child should have an ‘ABC Book’ that, as the name suggests teaches the alphabet. I especially loved this book because it not only has the alphabet but colors, shapes, opposites and so much more. The pages are bright and colorful and grab the attention of curious little ones.
One thing I would change is how clustered things are. All the alphabet with pictures is on two pages, as such, babies aren’t able to focus on one thing as there are so many things to look all at once. Nevertheless, my daughter will gaze at the photos for minutes at a time. (which is alarming as she is constantly moving and has a very short attention span).
Just as it is important for children to see the alphabet, it is also important for them to hear it. Electronic toys bring things to life, “they make learning fun by captivating children’s attention with colors, sounds, and interactive elements, and often feature favorite characters for children to bond with.”
“Electronic toys have multiple benefits, they teach tech skills, number and word recognition, spelling, and phonics. They also familiarize children with listening, following instructions, taking steps in a sequence, as well as hearing words of encouragement and reward. Children having access to these toys early will find it less daunting when the concepts are explored at school.”
There are hundreds of electronic toys on the market for varying age groups. I wanted toys that were age-appropriate that I know my daughter would enjoy.
These are my favorites:
This is one of the first toys I bought for my daughter when she was born. It doubles as a musical toy, a rattle, and a teether. My daughter loved biting on the little worm’s head and pressing the button to change the melody.
Unlike most toys, the melodies that are played are palatable can be enjoyed by adults. Melodies such as baby-friendly versions of classical masterpieces by Mozart, Vivaldi, Chopin, and Rossini.
Vtech is one of my favorite brands, they make toys that are durable that can withstand the inevitable tumbles and tantrums. This toy has bright beautiful colors that drew my daughter in. She loves to turn the pages and press the buttons as the little star on the corner lights up whenever she does.
I should warn you though that each page has a musical rhyme that plays whenever the page is turned. Because of how well made the toy is, the batteries last a very long time, as such the rhyme gets stuck in your head, and you may find yourself singing “a tisket, a tasket” randomly.
Toddler (12 – 15 months)
My daughter is fifteen months and is on the move. She touches everything and puts everything she finds in her mouth. She is constantly exploring. To promote her curiosity, and boy is she curious, I wanted to get her toys that can expand her imagination and further improve her coordination and motor skills.
For those purposes, these are the toys I recommend:
I love how the pieces of this building block set are designed. It is made from wood so no harmful BPA. The pieces are beautifully adorned with numbers and animals, and are very durable, and can withstand being tossed around.
My daughter has not mastered block building as yet, however, she loves to tear down the ones that are built. This set also comes with a container for easy storage and cleanup.
This book is beautifully illustrated, it develops a child’s imagination and provides information about the different methods of transportation. The story is well written and can be enjoyed by children as old as 12years.
My daughter has not yet grasped the concept of transportation; however, she fell in love with the pictures and would curiously gaze at them for minutes on end.
As I mentioned earlier, I love the Vtech brand. I wanted a toy that was able to move with my daughter, something she can take along with her whenever she is exploring.
The dump truck has buttons that play over 30 melodies and teachers about numbers, alphabet, and colors. This brightly colored toy promotes imaginative play and develops motor skills.
There are hundreds of toys on the market with varying specialties for various age groups to choose from. However, you are encouraged to ensure that the toys you select are ideal for your child and your family as no children are alike.
Whatever you do, just choose something! By doing so, you will be promoting your child’s development by ensuring that milestones are met.