In the first few weeks of life, all newborns want to do is eat, sleep and get cuddles from their parents, with that cycle repeating day in and day out without much variation.
According to Fit Pregnancy, the use of toys and playtime is a great way for mothers and fathers to introduce their baby to the world and teach them important skills that will aid in their development.
Plus, playtime with an infant gives parents a break from the often tedious task of constantly caring for someone that is entirely dependent on them and allows them to get a sense of their baby’s developing personality.
As a baby gets older and inches towards the one-year mark, playtime also becomes important due to the fact that it helps him or her make sense of the world and is the building blocks for a desire to learn new things. The latter will come in handy once the little one is a bit older and able to attend either daycare, pre-K or kindergarten classes.
The following list is an excellent way for parents to learn when it is an appropriate time to introduce their infant to toys and help them figure out when it is time to get new toys that will help boost their little one’s development.
20 They Respond To Facial Expressions
Kid’s Health writes that when a mother or father starts to notice that their infant is able to respond to their facial expressions, that is a good indication that they will more than likely be interested in age-appropriate toys.
For example, from the ages of one to three months, most infants will pick up on the fact that their mother and father are a source of comfort for them. They’re starting to become more aware of their surroundings and therefore more aware of your facial expressions when they vocalize. By the time they’re about two months old, most infants can smile in response to their parents smiling at them.
19 They Are Curious About Objects
Aside from becoming more aware of their parents’ facial expressions, Kid’s Health points out that infants in the age range of one to three months are also growing more curious about the different objects mom and dad are holding or that are around the house.
For example, if a baby starts cooing in an excited manner whenever he or she sees something like a bottle or a mobile hanging above their crib, that’s another tell-tale sign that the little one is not only getting stronger but can handle playing with age-appropriate toys like a rattle or something along those lines.
18 Movements Become More Coordinated
In the first few weeks of life, babies aren’t exactly the most coordinated beings ever because this world is brand new to them and they haven’t quite figured out how to move their limbs and the rest of their body now that they’re out of the womb.
After the first three months, Kid’s Health writes that you’ll notice that your infant is slowly but surely learning how to become more coordinated and they’re figuring out that yes, they can move their arms and legs at the same time. Now that their coordination is improving, this is the perfect time to introduce them to hand-held toys.
17 Squealing With Delight And Laughing
When my little sister was born, the first month or so she pretty much just slept and ate. After a few months passed by, she became a bit more entertaining and I had fun making funny faces or coming up with hilarious dances because she thought it was brilliant and would squeal happily whenever I made a fool out of myself for her amusement.
Kid’s Health points out that it is a good idea to start introducing an infant to toys once they can squeal with delight and giggle after their eyesight has improved at around three or four months old.
16 Learning To Open And Shut Their Fists
It became a running joke amongst my family when my little sister was an infant that whenever she started opening and closing her fists (particularly when she was in her carriage) that she was trying to mimic a noblewoman and order us around.
Kid’s Health advises that once your infant learns that he or she can actually open and shut their fists on their own, you can give them a baby rattle. They’ll learn by trial and error that once they start holding the rattle that they are the ones who are in control of the amount of noise that the toy makes.
15 Using Hands To Explore Surroundings
Kid’s Health points out that in the first few months of life, babies start to realize that they can use their hands to explore their surroundings. You’ll start to notice that they try to do things like reaching out for your hand when you go to pick them up from their cradle, swatting at your hands or grasping for an object that they see or that they notice you are holding.
Once they are able to start exploring their surroundings with their hands, that’s a good time to start introducing them to toys that they can hold and move around on their own.
14 Acting More Alert After Feedings
Fit Pregnancy notes that in the first month or so of life, infants aren’t really active all that much. They tend to mainly eat and then immediately fall asleep right after. It isn’t really until they hit the two-month mark that they start to stay up after eating and become a bit more alert once they’re finished with a feeding.
Parents should take advantage of this time period by introducing their infant to all sorts of different toys and should take the time out to play with their son or daughter right after they finish eating in order to keep them occupied.
13 Batting The Mobile Above The Crib
According to Fit Pregnancy, if you notice that your baby is trying to use their hands or feet to bat at the mobile that’s hanging above the crib, that is a good indication that their hand-eye coordination is slowly developing.
You can purchase toys like a rattle and shake it for your little one as a way to increase their sight and sound stimulation or you can let your newborn play alone by purchasing a few black and white photographs and put them in front of their face so that they have something to look at while you are busy.
12 Wanting To Grasp Objects In Their Hands
Fit Pregnancy points out that once an infant hits the age of four to six months old, they start to want to hold items in their hands now that they have learned that they can grasp and hold different things.
Since their coordination has been steadily improving, it is a good idea to get them lightweight toys like wooden rings that they can easily put their tiny hand around or a rattle. Just be sure to avoid toys that are really small, since babies are like puppies and love to stick things in their mouth at this stage of the game.
11 Trying To Bang Pots And Pans Together
According to Fit Pregnancy, once an infant hits the seven-month age mark, their hand-eye coordination has increased and you’ll notice that they’re curious about the noises that they can make when they whack two items like pots and pans together in their hands.
One way to increase your infant’s senses and teach them about the law of cause and effect is by getting them age-appropriate musical toys like a drum kit designed for babies. You can then sit your son or daughter on your lap and encourage them to bang on the toy and make noise. Not only does this stimulate their hearing and their eyes, but it also helps to increase their vocabulary too.
10 Learning How To Crawl
Fit Pregnancy writes that once an infant learns how to crawl and is able to be a bit more mobile around the house or apartment, this opens up a whole new world of toys and games that you can play with your little one.
You can purchase toys that help inspire your son or daughter to move around more, which will help improve their coordination and their mobility skills. Another good idea is to play a game of chase when your baby tries to walk or crawl away by following them when they attempt to go in the other direction.
9 Looking For A Ball That Rolled Under The Couch
Parents encourages new moms and dads to roll a ball to their infant, especially if they are in the age range of four to six months old. If your little one starts to look for the ball if it rolls under the couch, that’s another sign that your little one is starting to engage more with the world around them and they’re ready to play with more toys.
Aside from encouraging your little one to push the ball towards you, at this age you can also introduce them to the game of peekaboo and teething toys in all sorts of different shapes.
8 Calling For You If You Leave The Room
Kid’s Health points out that even during the newborn stage, infants are very curious about the world around them and they enjoy looking at the faces of the people in the house or apartment with them, especially the face of their own mother.
If you notice that your little one is looking for you and starts calling out for their mother or father the minute that you leave the room, that is a good sign that you can start introducing more complicated and interactive toys to them rather than the ones that they simply have to follow with their eyes and ears.
7 Trying To Imitate Your Sounds
Parents points out the months and babies start observing the world around them, it is pretty common for them to try and imitate the sounds that they hear from their parents (such as a nursery rhyme) or objects around them, such as a stuffed animal that sings.
This is a good sign that they’re ready to master fine motor skills, so you can start introducing them to toys that they can fill up or dump things in. For example, such as stacking rings or even nesting cups because they’ll teach your little one how to put things away and clean up after themselves.
6 Repeating Movements They Find Fun
Zero To Three points out that little babies love the comfort of familiar things, so once your infant realizes that they can move their arms and legs on their own, they might repeat certain movements over and over again because they find it soothing.
Once they start doing this, you can give them a toy that they can interact with and gently move around over and over again. A good example is a stuffed animal of a dog that has a button that allows a baby to press it to make it “bark” so they can experiment with moving their hand.
5 Increased Hand-Eye Coordination
Let’s face it, for the first few months of life babies are way too busy eating, sleeping and trying to figure out the world around them to even attempt to try and learn hand-eye coordination.
All that changes once they hit the age of four months old and up, so Kid’s Health adds that once you notice that your little one’s hand-eye coordination has gotten a lot better and they can actually properly hold the rattle you gave them to shake, then it’s time to give them toys to play with that will give said coordination a big ol’ boost.
4 Lifts Their Head When Laying On Their Tummy
Parents points out that it takes some time for an infant to learn to pick up his or her head when they are laying down on their stomachs, but once they figure out how to do so, you can start to use toys to help them develop upper body strength instead of the items you were using before.
For example, you can purchase soft puppets or toys that make gentle sounds that won’t bother their delicate ears and play with them just outside of your infant’s field of vision. This will help their neck, ribcage and chest muscles get stronger and help teach them the breathing patterns that are essential for learning how to talk too.
3 Constantly Trying To Put Objects In Their Mouth
Much like puppies, Kid’s Health points out that infants like to explore the world by using their mouth. Both canine and human babies really benefit from playing with toys that they can chew on or gently mouth.
Even if your little one doesn’t have their first tooth yet and isn’t showing any signs of a tooth appearing, it’s a good idea to head out to the local toy store and get some toys that your baby can put into their mouths and bite into after you start noticing that they’re bringing a toy (or even their hands, if no toy is around) to their mouth.
2 Trying To Become More Physically Active
Parents points out that by the time an infant is four to six months old, they tend to be more physically active. If you notice that your baby is starting to sleep less and move around more, then that’s a good indication that you need to up your toy game.
The Bump adds that parents can now introduce toys that encourage movement, such as the Knock-Knock Blocks that allow little ones to practice moving their arms around. Plus, they have high-contrast colors and interesting textures that help provide a pleasant sensory experience for your infant, since they’re still learning about the world around them.
1 Reaching For Household Items
Kid’s Health points out that infants are very curious about the world around them and what their mother is doing. Once they realize that they can grasp items in their hands and hold them securely without the item falling out because they didn’t have the strength to hold it tightly, they often start to reach out for household items that their mom or dad are holding or that they’ve seen them use before.
You can purchase toys that encourage your little one’s sense of touch, such as an infant gym, which comes with several interesting toys that your baby can swat at, grab, hold and explore.