Question – “I am a new mom-to-be. As you can well-imagine, it is very confusing about what toys to buy. I looked at an activity mat that had lights on it. Something about that didn’t seem right to me. Are lighted toys good? What specific toys do you recommend?”
Answer From Dr. Sally – Thank you so very much for your good question. With all the hype and information today about buying toys that are good for a baby’s development, I totally understand how confusing it must be. Here is the good news. No toy is a must.
Your baby plays to learn about the world around him or her. Your job as a parent is to provide as optimal an environment as possible to help. Real play is interactive and responsive, and no one can interact and respond better than you. The five senses provide the basic guidance for optimal play.
Sight – True colors are great, but black and white is effective too. Eye contact is everything as you show your baby almost anything and enjoy together what a specific item has to offer.
Sound – Choose your favorite way to provide soft, soothing, and playful sounds. Use soft music for a background. Classical is great. Use soothing sounds like that of a bell, chimes, or a lullaby for relaxation. Enjoy playful music that you like and can join in with the spirit from your own childhood.
Taste – No special advice here.
Touch – Texture is the name of this game. Touching soft cotton and all kinds of textures will work.
Smell – Your household is best for that. Fresh flowers and natural food aromas under your direction are best. Avoid stickers and markers specifically made to smell. Those artificial chemicals are not good for your baby.
I guess it looks like your house is full of all kinds of toys–cards, paper, plastic containers, cotton, and even the the socks you fold.
Here is the main guidance that comes from the world of play:
The most formed the toy, the least value it has. The least formed the toy, the most value it has. It goes back to another life principle. The more you put into something, the more you get out of it. Before buying any specific toy, have in your mind one of the above-mentioned areas and what you think it will accomplish beyond what you already have available. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. As you genuinely play with your baby, you will see that “you are indeed the best educational toy!”