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Ahren Hoffman
BY Ahren Hoffman
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Six Developmental Toys for Your Child’s First Toy Box

Welcoming a new baby into your life is an exciting and sometimes confusing time full of equal parts laughter and late nights. Preparing for a child involves a lot of logistics, including baby furniture, clothes, various baby products ranging from tubs to teethers, and of course…toys. One aspect that is not to be overlooked is play products for young infants. Why does a child need to play?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics Clinical Report entitled, The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children. Because every child deserves the opportunity to develop to his/her unique potential…”

A diet of healthy play products is almost as important as a healthy nutritional diet. Toys can be picked that encourage cognitive, communicative, physical, sensory and social/emotional development of kids throughout their childhood. Playing with toys is a way for young children to naturally learn, develop, explore and expand essential life skills.

What would the experts put into a child’s first toy box to help reach important developmental milestones?

With shelves of options before you, standing in the aisle of a toy store deciding what to include in a child’s first toy collection can be a huge challenge. Fortunately, there are professionals in the child development field who have answered the questions many new parents have but may not have verbalized.

1. Developmental RattlesSmart Noggin baby rattle

The brain child of a developmental therapist, the NogginStik by SmartNoggin Toys promotes visual tracking, a skill children need to learn to reach, crawl and walk while also encouraging face recognition and grasping skills. Technology and brain research have combined with tradition to create a rattle that really delivers as this little tool helps infants reach their first milestones.

2. Cuddle Toys

Hedgehog Hand PuppetSome people call these plush creatures ‘lovies’ because they can often provide kids with comfort. A child can hold a cuddle toy for confidence to go to sleep or share a stroller seat together. Plush toys are a wonderful way to provide your little one with a huggable pretend buddy. Some of our absolute favorites are actually two toys in one—stuffed toys and puppets combined. Folkmanis, Inc. has a whole line of dual-tasking toys that a child would want to hold and hug but can also be used as a puppet like their Hedgehog Hand Puppet. These Folkmanis puppets are life-like, well-made and durable for years of imaginative play.

3. Musical Toys

Lamaze Soft Chime Garden

Music is a great mood modifier. Music can soothe and coo a child to sleep, or provide rhythms and beats to encourage movement and playfulness. Research shows that playing music for little kids helps brain development and aids in promoting movement and communication. Start with something a child can activate easily like the Lamaze Soft Chime Garden and later look to companies like Schoenhut to provide early instruments for kids to begin to explore their own musical talents.

4. Blocks

First Blocks by HABA

Much has been written on all the lessons these clever cubes deliver to little ones. Building blocks teach problem solving, spatial aptitude and lay the groundwork for kids to understand logic and mathematics. First Blocks by HABA are a colorful, playful, engaging set to start building.

5. Shape-Sorters

Laugh & Learn Cookie Shape Surprise

These early puzzles offer an enticing way for kids to learn their shapes and colors along with grasping and problem-solving skills. Shape Sorters are also a great way for kids to practice their hand-eye coordination. Fisher-Price offers an appealing shape-sorter, Laugh & Learn Cookie Shape Surprise and several other great fits for little learners like the Laugh & Learn Sort ‘n Learn Lunchbox.

6. Object Permanence Toys

Peek-a-Boo Panda

This is one of the skills kids should learn early and toys are a great way to encourage memory and recall. These products help kids reach developmental milestones by teaching them that an object continues to exist even when they cannot see it. Toys and play are perhaps the best way to introduce this concept to infants and here is one of our favorites called the Peek-a-Boo Panda from Melissa & Doug.

So send out the word to family and friends that toys are tools kids can use from infancy onward to prepare them for a healthy, happy and rewarding life, while at the same time delivering a whole lot of fun!

Ahren Hoffman

Written on October 19, 2015 by:

Ahren Hoffman IS the manager of Industry Relations and Partnerships for the National Lekotek Center. Lekotek, is a not-for-profit and leading authority on toys and play for children with disabilities. Lekotek is dedicated to providing children of all abilities access to the benefits of play experiences. Visit www.ableplay.org for a complete listing of toys. You can also find them onFacebook
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