Childhood is the period of development. The most part of motor, mental and emotional development takes place during the first five years of human life. If you ever see children busy in play, you will be surprised by the seriousness with which they are involved in the seemingly useless task of pulling carts, rolling balls and building Lego blocks. At best, this is nature working for the cognitive development of children. For them play and toys are serious work for they are learning the most important lessons of their young lives. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics “Decades of research have documented that play has a crucial role in the optimal growth, learning and development of children from infancy through adolescence.”
To the parents’ delight, in order to make the best use of this burst of learning energy in children, experts have developed educational toys which serve the dual purpose of play and education. There are toys for infants, toddlers and pre-adolescents.
Toys for infants 0 – 12 months: Babies in their early stages of infancy are hardly anything more than bundle of nerves (and very adorable bundles they are too). They are also at this immobile stage of their infancy when they can’t move around or express much. So the best toys for them are the ones that entice their senses; mostly the sense of sight and hearing. Toys that have bright colors and that make soothing sounds are the best choices. Crib mobiles, rattles and stuffed toys are recommended for this age
The range of toys become a little wider as the baby grows and is able to hold things at the age of 6 to 12 months. The basic criterion for toys remains the same. They should be brightly colored, textured, musical and soft. At this age children find joy in pulling, pushing, rolling and putting things in their mouths. Investing in a baby gym and play mats would be a wise decision. They not only develop fine and gross motor skills but also enhance perspective and general understanding of the world around them. They have all sorts of buttons and knobs that play songs, alphabets or animal sounds when pressed.
Toys for toddlers: kids above 12 months of age are more mobile and are usually finding their way into everything they come across. At this age the toys can be categorized into two kinds. Toys that develop their bodies and physical skills and toys that teach them numbers, letters, shapes and colors. Baby walkers and push or pull along carts are a favorite with almost all children this age. There are fun copy-cat toys that record and repeat sounds and words uttered by the baby. This can be a fun and learning experience that parents can share with their children. Building blocks, shape shifters, soft balls for throw and catch and musical instruments like drums and xylophones are some examples educational toys appropriate for this age.
It is a pleasure for every parent to see their babies playing, growing and learning. Toys that confirm to the three E test are the best for kids of all ages; they entertain, engage and educate.