Deciding what kinds of toys to get for your baby is a very important job. An enormous amount of development and brain growth happen in the first three months. New neural pathways are being formed all the time, and play is a huge part of the appropriate stimulation of that development. While just about any toy that isn't a choking hazard will be good for your baby, my personal top picks are listed below.
1. Black and white mobile.
Shortly after your baby is born, she will be able to see in slightly fuzzy black and white. Since she can only see for about 8 to 10 inches, and will not have very good motor coordination yet, hanging images nearby so that she can look at them is a great idea. There are a few commercial black-and-white mobiles, or you can make your own. Just be sure that if you make one to keep it out of reach of your baby, since it may not be safe to be chewed on. Black and white images will be the most enjoyable for your baby through the first couple of months because the high contrast will make them easier to focus on. As your baby gets older and her eyesight improves, colors and more complex shapes will also become more interesting.
2. Baby gym.
This contraption is a great invention. My only argument with it is that it can encourage back time more than it encourages tummy time. However, if you make an effort to limit the amount of time your baby spends on his back in the gym, it is still a lot of fun. The cause-and-effect connection is easily made with baby gyms that have crinkly cloth flaps, little mirrors and peek-a-boo images for your little giggle bug to find. This toy will also last until your baby begins to scoot and crawl, so it has a pretty long life compared to many baby toys.
Any rattle will do. A small heavy-duty maraca, a plastic bead filled shaker or a wooden rain-stick are all great options. Rattles are the most basic of baby toys, they have been around almost as long as people have. Some of the earliest artifacts ever recovered were rudimentary forms of baby rattles. The rattle stimulates sound-orientation, cause and effect, and fine motor skills. All around, this toy is a great one for your baby. Also, rattles stay interesting to your baby for up to two years, and even longer as a part of music education, so it is a toy that will grow with your little hermit crab.
Bells are really just a fancier form of the basic rattle. But there is unquestionably a very high amount of fun and interest that most babies have for the clear ringing tones of metal bells. The most important thing to consider when looking at bells is safety. Jingle bells can be choking hazards, and even the striker from regular bells can become this type of concern. The best type of bell for a baby is one that is encased within cloth or better yet, a metal rattle. This site is a great place to find my very favorite kind of baby bell-rattle. The major drawback is that they can be quite expensive. Though if you are not on a budget you could also look at their interlocked silver teething rings which double as bell-like toys.
5. Shatter-proof Mirror.
One of the first combinations of shapes that your baby will be able to recognize will be a human face. Most new parents could spend hours just gazing at their precious new bundle of baby rolls, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you want to mix it up, a great toy for your baby is herself! Babies love to look at other babies, and at this early age, their reflection will seem to be exactly that. Then, when your baby begins to develop more of a sense of self, a mirror will be great to give her a clear mental image of what her expressions look like, and what the difference is between her face and other peoples faces. This is a very fun and educational toy, just be absolutely certain that the mirror you get is shatter-proof. As a side note, bendable baby mirrors are not a very good choice, because the images on them are warped and indistinct. If you want a mirror for developmental stimulation be sure to get one that is flat and rigid.
Trick: Water bottle.
One of the funnest and most fascinating toys for your baby is an old water bottle. You can leave a little water in it, or dry it out and throw some beans and bells into it. It crinkles when your baby squeezes it, it rattles or sloshes when your baby shakes it and it is light and easy to grab. I recommend taking off the paper label, half-flattening it and then sealing the lid on with hot glue, this will keep the squish-able crinkling quality, and minimize the possibility of your baby getting it open. You can put glitter in the water, or dry it and put small pebbles or twigs in it, there are endless possibilities for this amazing baby toy that only costs a buck or two. Just be sure that if you have any items that could be choking hazards in the bottle that you do seal it securely, babies often figure out how to twist off a lid long before you would think that they would.
Babies tend to find and make toys out of anything around them that they can get their tiny hands on. But to be safe, you should always inspect and ensure the safety of any new toys before they go into your baby's mouth. Watching your little dimpled doll figure out new toys is almost as fun for you as it is for your baby. And similarly, when you are picking out a new toy for your baby, if it is a toy that looks fun to you, chances are that your baby will love it too. If you have found these tips helpful please forward them to any new or expecting parents you know. Questions, comments and suggestions are always welcome. Happy parenting!