The truth is that babies do not need ANY toys at all! I would even argue that children, in general, do not need many toys and are very capable of inventing and creating their own. This is why we try to only buy toys which are educational and either last for many years or can be altered in some way (like art materials) to create something new.
So, when looking for toys, the first thing to do is to look around your house and find safe materials your baby can hold and play with. Because at this stage in their lives, babies need sensory stimulation (but not too much).
WHY SHOULD YOUR KIDS HAVE FEWER TOYS?
- Toys are not babysitters, but often they are used as such. What a child really needs is connection time with their caregiver and nothing can replace that.
- When kids have too many toys (babies included), they jump from one toy to another without actually spending much time on one activity. This shortens their attention spans.
- If toys can not be transformed in some way, it encourages the child to break it because that is the only way they feel that the toy can be transformed.
- Babies, in particular, like using “real objects.” So they will often prefer to play with your kitchen utensils, pots and pans than any toys you could offer them.
- By only selecting beautiful, organic, educational, useful toys, you will create a calm, exquisite and inspiring environment around your child.
RECOMMENDED TOYS FROM BIRTH TO ONE
If you decide to buy a few toys for your baby, then here is the list of our toys. I followed Adèle’s developmental milestones and introduced each toy at age appropriate times. Please note, though, that babies are different, so the age at which I introduced the toys might differ from your baby’s. Also, many of the toys on my list grow with the child and can be used by toddlers as well as older children.
1 MONTH OLD
NONE! This first month you are getting to know the baby, recovering from childbirth, getting used to all the crying, diaper changing, sleeplessness. There is no need for any toys. The baby is getting used to the world. Everything is new and exciting enough so when they are not sleeping or eating, babies are looking around and learning about their surroundings. That is more than enough!
2-3 MONTHS OLD
Only mobiles and an interlocking discs toy at this age. My dad made Montessori-style mobiles for Adèle which we would change every 2 weeks to keep her interest. If you choose to do the same, only use them for 20-25 minutes maximum to avoid overstimulating your baby. The idea behind these type of mobiles, in a nutshell, is that they help stimulate visual senses, coordination, focus, tracking and teach about cause/effect. For example, mobiles such as this Gobi mobile (photo below) present your baby with graduaded shades of colour at the time when the eyes are learning to differentiate color shades.If you don’t want to use mobiles, have your child look at contrasting fabrics, books, artwork, etc. instead. If you do want to make your own mobiles, use only a maximum of 5 elements per mobile and if using realistic objects, then make sure their movement is realistic too.
When using mobiles, there are a few rules to follow:
- Mobiles should NOT be above the child’s bed but, instead, above the play area.
- Mobiles must be out of reach, so hang them a bit in front of the baby (not directly above).
- For bell/ring mobiles (discussed below), they should be just within reach but attached securely.
Here are the Montessori-type mobiles that we use:
- 4 Montessori Classic Mobiles – They can be made at home with minimal supplies -color printer, printer paper, fishing wire, sticks, yarn. Here is a blog with a list of DIY tutorials.
- This swallow mobile is so lovely. With a little breeze it is magical to watch and imitates swallows flying beautifully. We still use it as a decoration.
- Manhattan Toy Wimmer-Ferguson Infant Stim-Mobile for Cribs – We also purchased this mobile as it is award-winning and was very highly recommended by other moms. It comes with interchangeable cards and, unlike the above-mentioned mobiles, can be attached to a crib or other furniture. You can also adjust the distance easily as your baby’s vision develops.
4 MONTHS OLD
If your baby is starting to reach up with their hands, you will know that they are ready for a baby gym. When looking for one, make sure it is made of natural materials, is sturdy, and only has a maximum of 5 toys. I like wood because it breathes. Here is a list of options for you to consider:
- Musina Baby Gym $117.11 – 3 toys create a good balance so this was the one we chose for Adèle.
- Haba Color Fun Play Gym $69.99 – height adjustable and you can attach your own organic toys to it.
- Handmade Baby Gym $99.95 – This one is made from unfinished wood, but the rattles are not eco-friendly. However, all 5 of them are detachable so you can replace them with your baby’s favourite organic toys.
- Eco-Friendly Baby Gym $134.99 – This baby gym is one of the most eco-friendly ones on the market. It is made from wood with non-toxic finish and hand knit toys made from organic cotton and stuffed with 100% sheep’s wool. The arched design is also unique and more calming for the baby.
- Plan Toys Activity Gym $55.99 – What makes this one different is that it comes with a detachable mirror.
- Handmade Baby Play Gym Without Toys $41.99 – If you only want the frame without the toys, then this one is the least expensive alternative.
5-8 MONTHS OLD
Bead maze and musical toys such as a drum or a xylophone. After 6 months the baby starts eating solids, so their interest shifts to food. It is the perfect time to start letting them touch different fruits and vegetables.Also, this is a good time to introduce a mirror as it helps promote better self awareness.
9 MONTHS OLD
- Wooden Ring Stacking Toy $27.70 – organic natural wood
- Rainbow Stacker $42.95 – Waldorf-friendly wooden toy, dyed with certified non-toxic, water based colors
- Plan Toys Cone Sorting $26 in Australia – organic recycled wood.
- Plan Toys Stacking Tree $18.00 – original design, for dexterous babies
- Hand Made Pyramid $19.95 – wooden, non-toxic toy
- Stacking Cups $9.06 – Adèle still uses these in her bath. They are numbered and made from recycled plastic milk containers. You can wash them in a dishwasher and they can be used for both nesting and stacking.
10-12 MONTHS OLD
Other than these, we only have a handful of organic, hand-made plush toys made by our family and friends. And all of the toys from Adèle’s first 10 months of life fit into a tote bag!
Which are your baby’s favourite toys?