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Choosing Toys for Babies

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

Best toys for young babies:

  • Board books

  • Foot or hand puppets

  • Musical toys

  • Rattles

  • Small, lightweight, easy-to-grasp toys

  • Squeaky toys

  • Teething rings

  • Toys with high-contrast graphics, bright colors, or black-and-white patterns

Best toys for older babies:

  • Activity boxes (levers/buttons/dials/hinges)
  • Balls
  • Beginning puzzles (two or three large pieces; knobs are helpful)
  • Blocks
  • Cars and trucks
  • Chunky small people and accessories
  • Dolls and stuffed animals
  • Hammering toys
  • Large interlocking beads
  • Modeling dough
  • Musical toys
  • Nesting cups
  • Peg boards
  • Picture books
  • Plastic animals
  • Pop-up toys
  • Push or pull toys
  • Shape sorters
  • Stacking rings
  • Toy versions of everyday items (telephones, cooking utensils, doctor kits)
  • Toys you still remember from your childhood (The classics endure and are always a good bet!)
  • Washable crayons or markers and blank paper

As you give you baby new things to play with, keep in mind that there is no right way to play with toys. For example, a puzzle is not always for "puzzling." The pieces make great manipulative characters, can be sorted or put in boxes, and make interesting noises when banged together or against an empty pot. Children learn through play, so any toy they enjoy playing with is, by definition, educational.

Safety for all toys
Always consider well the safety aspects of anything your baby is going to play with. Here are a few ways to keep playtime safe:

  • Discard any plastic wrapping, plastic bags, packaging, or tags before giving a toy to a baby.

  • Always watch for choking hazards. Anything small enough to fit in your baby's mouth has the potential for danger. Watch for pieces that may become loose from a larger object, too. Make sure that no small parts can be pulled off or chewed off the toy.

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Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen

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