Golden Rules to Buying Toys
- Don't get carried away with spending money, money, and more money on all the gizmos that are advertised. You are your baby's greatest toy in the early months of development - meaning that you are the one who is going to make him laugh, show him what fun there is to be had in life and encourage his curiosity for learning.
- Toys and DVDs advertised to 'promote intelligence and create a genius' are marketing tactics that trap many parents into buying.
- As Baby develops, toys that have multiple uses have greater potential to enhance her fascination and enjoyment than toys with limited use. Baby will explore possibilities about how things work, developing her problem solving skills and creative thinking.
As an example, let's look at a simple set of building blocks in a push trolley and see the potential it has.
At 3 months a baby is keen to grasp a brightly coloured hand sized block she is being shown. '... Oh that is a very strong reach ... Well done!' says Dad/Mum as Baby takes the block.
By 4 months she is reaching out to grab this block and bangs it on the floor, discovering her ability to make a noise!
Such 'games' continue and by 6-7 months she may grasp a block in each hand and discover she can clap them together. She practises at this with encouragement from Mum/Dad, and knows the fun in showing off as if to say, 'Wow look at me'. Then by watching Mum/Dad Baby learns from imitation (as discussed in Development and Learning → Be Baby's Most Effective Teacher) to play hiding/peek-a-boo games with the blocks by putting them into a box - Mum covers the box with a scarf, shakes the box listening to the sound, and asks 'Where are the blocks? Oh? ... (off comes the scarf) here they are! Hooray'.
By about 9 months, Baby is not only able to rhythmically tap/clap the blocks together while Mum/Dad sing songs and play but is now able to stack a few of them as she begins to explore the concepts of height, number and weight/balance. She discovers the concept of 'what happens when one block is put on top of another' and 'what happens when I knock them down - oh, they fall to the ground'. These skills further develop as she physically gets stronger, becomes mobile and cognitively is learning to solve problems (as discussed in Development and Learning → Cognitive Development).
By 10-11 months she may be learning to 'transport' the blocks to different areas both within the house and outside as she practises her walking by pushing the trolley. Then the trolley is filled with other toys, which are taken for 'a ride' ... and so the fun with the blocks in a trolley continues.
By the preschool years, to her great sense of achievement she is able to extend her knowledge of concepts such as shape, size, numbers, space and is able to build structures from blocks/boxes (and anything that can be stacked) which she will describe as 'huge buildings and very tall towers'. Mum/Dad will praise her effort 'Oh , wow ... what a fantastic structure you have built. Well done! And this all started with the grasping of one small block.
So, you can see that providing an environment for Baby that is going to promote her creativity, problem solving skills and overall, the fun of play, is not about the money you spend on toys. It is about your encouragement of her learning through the use of simple resources ... but just watch out for what goes into Baby's mouth as she discovers her creativity!
An Important note: As Baby develops through the toddler and preschool years her creative efforts will continue to be encouraged by displaying her work e.g. hanging her painting on the fridge. The effort put into constructing 'masterpieces' e.g. building a 'city' from blocks needs to be displayed so at the end of the day she can be proud of her achievements. This is continuing to promote self-esteem and encouraging her creativity. Value the time you share with Baby, as you guide her through the pathway of life.