While it is never too early to start playing with Baby, some toys may not resonate with them in the first month after birth, and others might present safety concerns.
Introducing toys to your newborn
Simple toys can be introduced early on, and are helpful in developing Baby’s senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Rattles, textured toys, musical toys, and mobiles are all fun and easy for them to play with at a young age. Just make sure that the toys don’t contain small pieces that could find their way into somewhere they shouldn’t be, don’t have strings that Baby could get tangled in, don’t end up in the crib, and are safe for their age group. Many toys come with guidelines for the ages where they’re appropriate.
At first, Baby’s sight will not be fully developed and they will only able to see 8 to 12 inches in front of them. As a result, contrasting colors and patterns will best stimulate their vision in the first month. Crib mobiles are the ideal toy during Baby’s newborn period because they can be brightly colored, patterned, moved without touch, and musically stimulative. If Baby doesn’t seem interested in any toys right away, give them a little time – as they grow a little bit more alert, their interest in the world around them will grow with them.
- Mobiles: The best mobiles for a newborn come in strongly contrasting colors, since Baby is still developing their eyesight. Black and white are actually ideal for those first days and weeks, but Baby will also see red and darker colors quickly, so if you feel like black and white is a little bleak for the nursery, a brightly colored mobile will keep Baby happy just as easily, and maybe for longer. Mobiles that make noise can be a big hit with their littlest fans, and mobiles that move can hold their interest for quite a while. Most mobiles have to conform to specific safety guidelines about the size of the toys that dangle from them, and the length of the strings, but hand-made mobiles don’t always follow the same standards. That’s no reason not to get that one beautiful, one-of-a-kind mobile from Etsy, but it’s definitely a good idea to make sure it meets safety standards before introducing it to Baby. All mobiles should be securely fastened, since they can cause harm if they fall into the crib, and should be taken down once Baby grows big enough and coordinated enough to reach out for them, usually around 5 months, or whenever they start sitting up on their own.
- Rattles: Rattles are a pretty broad category, since it seems like half the baby toys on the market have some kind of rattle attached. That’s because babies really do love toys that make noise, though, especially when they’re young and are still developing their eyesight. The ideal first rattles in Baby‘s life are small enough that they can easily grasp them, and probably decorated in the contrasting colors and geometric shapes that they are so attracted to. Toys in ball shapes have a good chance of still being something Baby is interested in as they get older, but definitely aren’t a requirement. Rattles with interesting textures will probably end up doubling as teething toys, and Baby always needs more of those, so texture is definitely something to look out for.
- Gyms: Baby gyms aren’t exactly like the adult version, but they do both provide the chance to develop physical skills in a stimulating environment, and they can both happen in your living room, although Baby‘s will definitely fit there a lot more comfortably than yours would. Baby gyms can keep babies happy for hours, and can come already stocked with all of Baby‘s favorite things – brightly contrasting colors, things that rattle, things that move when they hit them, and an unbreakable mirror so they can grin up at their own face to their heart’s content.
Newborns and toys don’t always go hand-in-hand, but by the time they are a few months old, their fine motor skills and vision might be developed enough to actually start having fun with their toys, instead of just touching them before pooping and crying.
- Danette Glassy, Judith Romano, Committee on Early Childhood, Adoption, and Dependent Care. “Selecting Appropriate Toys for Young Children: The Pediatrician’s Role.” Pediatrics. 111(4). Web. April 2003.
- “10 Pediatrician Recommended Toys for Newborns Through Preschoolers.” UnityPoint Clinic. UnityPoint Health, December 9 2014. Web.
- “Creative Toys Engage Babies.” Janet Lansbury. Janet Lansbury, December 19 2010. Web.
- “Stages of Play from Birth to 6 Months: A Full-Body Experience.” Zero to Three. ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, February 26 2015. Web.