Sunday, July 09, 2006

Day 139 - Raising a Smarter Baby Part 5 - Baby Toys

Part 5 of the Raising a Smarter Baby series

Today's Tip - Toys can be used as teaching tools, not just for fun or babysitting

Like I said in my first post in this series, you don't need to spend a lot on toys or pay attention to any pressure you might feel that you're not buying the "right" toys if you don't go for the most expensive brand. And, unless you love clutter, you probably don't want your house to turn into a plastic jungle.

Safety First
The most important attribute for any toy you pick is safety. And this changes as your baby gets older. The lego set that you would never give to a four month old might be just the thing your four-year-old needs to fulfill his desire to be the next Frank Llyod Wright. Any toy with sharp edges or that shoot projectiles are definitely a no-go for young children. And, depending on your philosphy, you might want to stay away from toys that promote violence, like wrestling toys.

Exercise Your Brain
When it comes to toys, there are definitely two categories. Ones that are interpretive, and some that are not. A TV isn't very interpretive, and doesn't let your child think. Toys like building blocks, sand toys, dolls etc. are open ended and let your child act out many different scenarios and really excerise their creativity.

Develop This!
There are also toys you can get that'll help develop their skills. Here are just a few:

  • Balls, climbing structures, blocks and anything that requires them to use their whole body builds motor skills
  • Magnetic toys, playdough, sand toys, building blocks all help build an understanding of how the world works

  • Numbered blocks and toys that come in a set help with counting skills

  • Shakers, drums, tambourines, guitars and and musical instrument promotes a budding musical talent

  • Interactive books, blocks with letters and toys that have things labeled with names are all great for literacy

  • Telephones, puppets and dolls will all help your baby's social development by helping them create their own scenarios where characters give and take

Use What Your Momma Gave You
Most of the time, the best playthings are the things you've got around the house. Boxes, pillows, spoons, pots, pans...everything is a toy to your child. And part of child's playtime should be time spent creating, using crayons and markers, or making arts and crafts. Your child can make his own toys...mix markers and a box and you've got a spaceship. Mix a box, some pillows and newspaper folded into a hat and you've got a swarthy pirate ready to sail the high seas. The only thing limiting them is their imagination, encourage them to use it.

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