If you stroll the aisles of a toy store or baby store you will find an overwhelming assortment of infant must-haves. So what toys do you truly need for an infant? What toys should you get to best stimulate learning and development? What toys will last?
Is your house taken over with toys?
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Babies change more in their first year than they will any other year of their life. This is the year they will learn to start talking, start walking, start eating, and start engaging with the people and things in their environment. It seems like a lot, and it is, but in many ways their needs are very simple.
In their play environment, infants need:
- Engaging materials that stimulate curiosity and vocabulary.
- Motivating objects that will encourage them to roll, crawl and walk.
- Smaller items to grasp and manipulate.
- People who will respond to their needs and interact with them.
That’s it? Yes. Beyond meeting their basic clothing, feeding, changing and sleeping needs, infants truly do not need much.
So what does this mean for your playroom? If you have been following along with the Playroom 101 series you have done some organizing, de-cluttered any toys you do have, arranged your furniture and made notes on how to train your infant to clean up. Now, what toys should you have available for them to play?
Different Textured Items + Things to Chew
Infants will spend most of the first year exploring their environment with their senses. They will touch, listen, watch, smell, and yes, taste the items in their environment. This is an important developmental stage as they work to integrate their senses and learn about the world. Offering infants objects with a range of textures is important. The bulk of this should simply be everyday items: wooden spoons, different fabrics, small rattles. You may also want to purchase some teething toys or toys for chewing, especially as your child starts to develop teeth.
Multipurpose Toys such as Links and Blocks
Infants need toys to manipulate with their hands so they can work on fine motor skills such as grasping objects, transferring objects from one hand to the next, putting things in and out, and stacking items. They also need toys that are motivating to them that you can use to help encourage them to roll over, reach, sit, and eventually walk. Some favorites are links, Fisher Price stack and sort combo, small stacking blocks. These are all toys that can be grasped by younger infants, used for taking in and out of bowls, hidden to explore cause and effect and more.
Books: Both Fiction and Non-Fiction
Books are a must for all ages. For infants, you want primarily durable board books that can withstand a curious baby. Look for a combination of non-fiction books that will mostly focus on labeling objects and short, simple picture books. You can find the books my twins enjoyed the most their first 2 years of our 10 Books for 0-1 Year Olds list and Best Books for One Year Olds list.
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Erin Buhr has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and works as a freelance writer and early childhood educator. She currently lives in Mississippi with husband and twin four year olds. You can read more by Erin on her blog, Bambini Travel, where she writes about family travel, children’s books, and preschool activities.