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Choosing Toys for Babies

By Elizabeth Pantley, author of Gentle Baby Care and The No-Cry Sleep Solution

  • Babies are generalists. Your little one will apply what he learns from one object to any other that is similar. Therefore, don't give him an old book or magazine to scribble in unless you want all of your books to be potential notepads. A sealed bottle may look fun, but your baby may then think he can play with your pill bottles.

  • Take a closer look at the things you consider "trash." Some may be valuable toys! Empty boxes, egg cartons, and tin containers are just a few examples of everyday castoffs that, once cleaned, can provide endless hours of play.

- PARENT TIP -
"I made a great set of blocks for my daughter by collecting an assortment of empty boxes from regular household products and covering them with contact paper. They are colorful, light weight and man interesting shapes and sizes." Yu-ting, mother of Shu-Lin (3 years old)

  • Your kitchen is overflowing with baby toys! Once your little one begins to crawl, it's time to rearrange the kitchen. Put all your baby-safe items, such as plastic containers, pots and pans, potholders and canned goods, in your lower cabinets and let your baby know where his "toys" are. You'll have to relax your housekeeping standards and deal with disorganized cabinets for a while, but the play potential is so fantastic that it's worth it!

  • Young children love water play, and a bowl or pan of water along with spoons and cups of various sizes make a fabulous source of fun. You can put your baby in his high chair, sit him on the floor on a beach towel, or take him outside in a shady spot if the weather's warm. I guarantee he'll be soaked when he's done, but that will be after a very long and happy play session.

  • Containers to fill and empty are lots of fun for a baby. You can safely fulfill your older baby's desire to manipulate small things by filling a large bowl with a variety of colorful children's cereals (nothing hard or ball-shaped) and supplying spoons, measuring cups, and other containers. Since you're using cereal pieces, it's okay if some end up in his mouth. Don't try this with beads, seeds, macaroni, or other items that pose a choking hazard.

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