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When your little one is under six months, your baby might not show too much interest in baby toys, no matter how bright or noisy they may be, but fast forward a few weeks and they definitely will. As your baby becomes more alert, they’ll start to engage in their environment and enjoy looking at bright or high-contrast colours, and listening to music.
How can baby toys help my baby's cognitive and physical development?
Of course, these toys aren’t just designed to look cute, they’ll help your baby’s development in a number of different ways:
Developing sense of touch: The soft, cuddly toys designed for newborns will often be a lovely texture, that your baby will enjoy reaching out and touching.
Developing listening skills: From around two months old, you’ll notice your baby will enjoy playing with soft rattles. It’s also a good idea to calm a grumbly baby with a cot mobile.
Tummy time: From around three to four months, your baby will begin trying to grasp things around them. As their strength increases, encourage them to try and lift their heads during tummy time. Now is a good time to introduce a play mat, with plenty of different toys for your baby to engage with.
Developing cause-and-effect: By around five months old, your baby will be starting to learn about cause-and-effect – if I hit this, it will make a noise, if I push this, it will move. Now is a good time to introduce musical toys.
Developing fine motor skills: This involves using the smaller muscle of your little one's hands and is commonly in activities including using pencils or construction.
Developing hand-eye coordination: This develops at around six months old, so toys that involve your baby putting one object on or in another are great.
Developing social skills: From around seven months old, your baby will start enjoying social interaction more. To help develop skills and ease any separation anxiety, use peek-a-boo toys that reassure your little one that even though something disappears, it comes back.
According to Dr. Amanda Gummer from www.goodplayguide.com, toys are great for your newborn's development.
'The right toys are great for newborns - they stimulate the senses and make the adults and other children in the room more inclined to be playful and interact with the baby. They can help children develop skills and interact with the world around them.'
The best baby toys for 6 months and under:
To help you work out which baby toys are the best to buy, we’ve summed up our top picks:
If there’s one thing on your mind in those first few months with a newborn, it’s sleep! Luckily, there’s plenty of baby toys designed to help this. Ollie the Owl can be used from birth and is a soft toy, with four different in-built tunes, a nightlight and a cry sensor, which plays music to your baby if they wake during the night. It’s a lifesaver – not only does it look adorable, it’s very huggable and soothes even the most restless baby.
A great little all-rounder, Philip the Pelican has a number of different features that make him a best buy. With multiple colours and patterns for visual development, textures for tactile development, a peek-a-boo mirror for facial recognition and an opening beak aiding cause and effect learning, Philip also has a handy hook, making him great for clipping to the car seat or pushchair on the move. He’s safe from birth and will keep your baby entertained for months.
After a soft toy for you little one? This adorable Bunny Soother is perfect for your newborn baby. It’s a light colour whilst their eyes are still developing, and is made from a lovely tactile fabric for your baby to develop their senses. It’s suitable from birth, and strong enough to survive the test of time as your baby’s best friend.
These bright little musical rings will keep your baby entertained for hours, both at home and on the go. They are colourful and chunky, with each ring providing different sounds and textures for your baby to engage with. Easy for little hands to hold, the musical rings are suitable from three-months-old. Our panel of mum testers also found the rings to be super durable, withstanding the inevitable falls from the highchair!
It might be more expensive than other mobiles on the market, but will last your baby until they are three-years-old. It has three different musical categories – nature, classic or lullabies, and nine different tunes and rotating characters on the ceiling. Once your baby outgrows the hanging toys, it converts into a music box and projector, then a bedside lamp with starry night projector. It’s super soothing, and in our opinion, worth the price tag.
This box set of baby toys contains 11 colourful toys, including blocks, characters, balls and wheels, and vehicles. Your baby will love exploring the shapes and textures, and the colours will excite them once they're beyond the black-and-white vision stage.
This sweet finger puppet book features Beatrix Potter's classic character, Peter Rabbit. The simple counting book comes with a cleverly stitched in soft finger puppet of Peter Rabbit that will really help you to bring storytime alive.
These Fisher-price building blocks help to introduce your baby to colours and shapes and includes ten colourful blocks to stack and sort. The easy-carry handle means you can take the fun anywhere for take-along play.
This activity and play gym has lots of sensory toys to keep babies entertained, with a mix of music, noises, movement, lights and colours. This sensory stimulation helps capture baby’s attention, improving concentration. The mirror also develops emotional understanding, as babies can see their expressions (such as their smiles).
As always with toys from Lamaze, this is far more than just a rattle! Freddie the Firefly is full of surprising features your baby will love, with his soft fabric head, with ribbon fillers, his colourful rotating wings and a see-through pod your baby can gaze at. The bright colours and high-contract patterns are also perfect for developing your little one’s vision.
'Playing with the different textures encourages curiosity and strengthens hand and finger strength (known as fine motor control). Holding Freddie close to little ones encourages them to reach out and grasp for the toy, improving hand-eye coordination and arm strength.' Says Dr. Amanda.
Young children love throwing the blocks and knocking over stacks. Knocking over the towers is accessible to very young children as it doesn’t require much coordination and can teach very young children cause and effect. As they get a bit older, they can try stacking the blocks themselves developing their coordination and muscle control.
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Lorna is the digital executive and regular contributor for Mother&Baby. After running the Yours magazine website which specialises in content about caring for kids and grandchildren, she has now brought her expertise to the UK's #1 leading pregnancy and parenting magazine. Lorna specialises on a range of topics from potty training and nutrition, to everything and anything that will keep your tot occupied!
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