Toys are one of the first ways to introduce a baby to colours, shapes and sounds, where they will also create the first steps towards learning about numbers and letters. Toys encourage children to use their imagination and to solve problems in a creative way, whilst at the same time, helping to both develop and fine tune their motor skills. Play is an essential part of childhood, and something that children can use to develop their social and emotional skills, as well as helping them to build relationships and a better understanding of objects and the world around them. By giving your child access to a variety of different toys, you will better assist them in being creative and hitting those developmental milestones.
Toys for babies are great for entertainment and as an introduction to early education. Baby toys are generally made using bright colours, which are captivating for babies and will strengthen their developing vision. The stimulation provided by toys can help your baby to reach milestones faster, as well as improving their memory, curiosity and the development of their nervous system. Baby toys provide safe stimulation through sounds and textures, and are the first way that a child will begin to learn about cause and effect, and object impermanence.
Everything that baby comes into contact with provides them with a new learning experience – toy or not! – so remember that a baby does not need an influx of toys, but a selection of well-designed baby toys with a purpose can be great. When thinking about toys that are appropriate for a baby, consider things which they are able to safely suck on, hold, touch, reach for, look at and make noise with. Older babies can benefit from similar toys, as well as items with which they can play pretend, create, build, and use their larger muscles for – such as soft toys for climbing over or heavier balls for pushing. Items that can be used for pouring and water play will always be a hit – with babies as well as older children! Most baby toys will be intentionally made to help develop hand-eye coordination and motor skills whilst stimulating all of their brand new senses. Baby rattles, for example, will encourgage your baby to use their strong grasp reflex at first, and after will help your baby to develop fine motor skills by learning the association between the movement and sound of a rattle.
Preschool toys are generally designed to make learning fun. A preschool aged child can play with the same toys as they did when they were a baby, but will learn something new from the experience and potentially interact with the toy in a different and more creative way. Children will experience different educational opportunities as their learning and knowledge grows, but be sure to give them access to toys that will test them and expand upon what they already know. Providing a child with toys that add something to their play will nuture their desire to be imaginative, as well as providing them with the opportunity to be creative and express their emotions. Toys for preschoolers can encourage them to act out situations they are already familiar with, or to create a situation that is completely abstract! They can also be a great encouragement for interacting with their peers, which in turn will help them begin to build an understanding about how to behave socially. Preschoolers will start to build their social development and skills through sharing, negotiating, taking initiative and overcoming challenges that they might face when playing with their peers.
When looking for the ideal toy for a preschooler, consider items that will encourage learning about language, letters and numbers, as well as problem solving, pretending, building and creating. Picture books are a brilliant way to introduce a child to new ways of thinking or to help them better understand certain actions, behaviours and situations. Interactive learning can also be very sense engaging and developmentally benefical to children when used in the right way. Shape sorters are a great toy for helping to nuture a child’s development, whilst building blocks provide a great way to help children learn about numbers, use and develop vocabulary, as well as teaching them about balance, gravity and weight. There are various toys which can be used to help a child practice what they are learning in school. This way of having fun whilst learning will help them to better retain any skills and knowledge that they are starting to develop.
Above all else, toys for both babies and preschool aged children can provide a great way for you to bond with your children whilst having fun. Babies will take every opportunity as one that they can learn something from – without even knowing it! – so by providing them with toys designed to help their development, you are helping to give them the best start. By making education enjoyable, fun and exciting for preschool-aged children, you are helping them to develop a positive relationship with learning, whilst encouraging their social development and fine tuning their motor skills.