Isn’t it so much fun to play with your children and to watch their little faces light up when they feel, hear or see their favourite toys? From presents, hand-me-downs and impulse buys to well thought out, aesthetically pleasing nursery toys - in this modern age there’s so many to choose from. So, how do we decide what kind of toys encourage our babies development, and, do we need to?
Now I’ve had three children, I understand the importance of choosing toys wisely! This isn’t just because the right toys can encourage your babies development, it’s also for my own sanity. Ideally I don’t want my house to resemble Toys R Us after being vandalised by a horde of toddlers.
The best toys will be played with over and over again and can be handed down between family and friends. Plus, you don’t want to be lumbered with too many bulky items only played with a few times then forgotten about.
If I am going to buy toys, I look for ones that will stand the test of time, are fun to play with but also help to encourage my baby’s development.
How does playing with toys aid development?
For babies and children, toys are about more than just having fun. When babies are born they haven’t yet developed fine motor skills or hand-eye coordination. They are still learning about sight, sounds and textures as their vision and other senses aren’t yet fully developed.
The world is a place that babies want to and need to learn about, toys are the gateway to this knowledge!
Tip: Keep an eye out for safety warnings on toys and age-appropriate indicators. This is for your child’s safety.
I put together a list of my favourite toys below that I think really helped to encourage my children’s development. Hopefully, you’ll find it useful!
Coloured wooden building blocks
This is definitely a toy that can be kept and enjoyed for years, brightly coloured wooden building blocks are perfect for inquisitive toddlers.
Playing and building with these bricks help children develop hand-eye coordination and motor skills. Toddlers can also learn about balance, shapes and textures as well as developing their creativity.
When it comes to baby and toddler toys, you don’t have to buy things. Sometimes you can work with what you’ve already got!
One of Coco’s favourite things to do when she was a toddler was play with water. She loved splashing her hands around in a few inches of water at the bottom of a washing up bowl. Empty squeezy bottles and floating balls served as toys but mostly, just splashing was the most fun part!
Water play has many benefits and is perfect for helping babies develop hand-eye coordination as well as being be a calming and relaxing activity.
Matchstick Monkey teething toy
Clearly my favourite toy of all is our Matchstick Monkey teething toy! I know you saw that one coming but for me, it’s really the best! It’s a true multitasker and soothes my babies gums when they are teething, it also helps me apply medicine and encourages the development of motor skills.
The bright colours of the matchstick monkeys are visually attractive for babies and the shape, smooth texture and malleable consistency make them incredibly satisfying for children to hold. As they’re BPA free and made from food grade silicone they’re 100 safe for your baby to chew to their heart’s content!
It’s crazy, but I actually have vague memories of bouncing in one of these myself when I was a baby! Not only are they great fun for toddlers and older babies, they work towards ensuring your toddler is getting exercise whilst encouraging healthy muscle development and motor skills.
It’s also a great way to entertain them whilst you do the housework!
It’s never too early to make music, look at Mozart! Encouraging children to express themselves with music is always a good idea, whether that’s singing, playing an instrument or knocking things together (unbreakable things, ideally!). It will help your child develop the right hemisphere of the brain - the creative side!
My First Keyboard (above) is perfect for young toddlers and is available at John Lewis currently but there are different versions everywhere. Allow your little one to learn the words and play tunes to popular nursery rhymes. Some children are extremely naturally musical and could soon want something a bit more sophisticated!
Tip: All baby and toddler toys should be easy to clean, regularly checked for damage and have no sharp edges