Toys are not only a source of fun for children, but they also provide a means for little ones to develop important skills and knowledge through play. Well-designed toys encourage a child’s imagination to grow and flourish, engage his or her senses, and challenge their little brains in new and exciting ways–even the smallest infants.
Read on to discover some of the most compelling reasons to facilitate playtime with your baby.
1. Sensory Development
As a parent, you’ve likely grown accustomed to frequent Internet searches for the best child care near you or proper developmental stages, and know how important it is to do things to facilitate your child’s social, intellectual, and emotional growth. Perhaps one of the most important ways to promote your infant’s development is to provide opportunities for sensory play.
Babies interpret the world around them through their five senses, and the more a play experience can stimulate their senses, the more information they can gather about the way their world works. The best baby toys stimulate more than one sense at a time to give infants the opportunity to connect sights, sounds, and touch experiences together. As an added bonus, this sensory stimulation also helps your baby begin to associate learning with fun.
2. Motor Skills
Infants develop both gross and fine motor skills at an impressive rate. In a few short months, babies can go from merely grasping a rattle to manipulating multiple objects with their hands and fingers. Toys teach your infant how to handle a variety of objects in different shapes, sizes, and textures, which can help him or her to develop muscle strength and coordination.
3. Cognitive Skills
Though it may not appear so on the outside, your baby’s brain is processing dozens of thoughts through every interaction with his or her toys. Toys help to build the critical thinking and problem-solving areas of your infant’s brain, which can support language development and reasoning skills down the road.
4. Cause and Effect
The world is entirely brand new for an infant, with thousands of new experiences and connections to be discovered. One of the first phenomena your baby will come to understand is the relationship between cause and effect: that one action sparks a reaction with a specific outcome. Toys help your baby to understand that he or she can perform an action and cause something else to happen, such as a sound or movement, which allows your little one to experience themselves as agents of his or her own environment.
Many virtues your child will discover throughout their development, including patience, are not necessarily innate. Toys show your child that it takes some time to discover the way something works and master its use. This not only comes in handy as your child gets older, but it also gives your baby a chance to experience a sense of accomplishment and pride when he or she finally gets it right.
6. Self Expression
Children don’t have a lot of control over their environment, and babies need a lot of parental supervision and assistance to take care of even their most basic human needs. Toys are one of the few things, even at a tender age, little ones can move and manipulate in whatever ways they choose. As well, toys are one of the first ways your baby can express preferences and interests in different colors, animals, activities, sounds, shapes, and textures. Through toys, you can learn a lot about your child even long before his or her first words are uttered.
At a time when the majority of their interactions with others around them are characterized by need-based connections, toys can also be a great way for you and your baby to bond and share an experience together that is purely about fun. Toys give your baby a safe, healthy, and educational way to explore the world, and what your little one learns during playtime will be invaluable as he or she continues to grow.