As many experts have pointed out, playing with mom and dad is much better for the baby’s brain development. Playing, talking, singing, and cuddling with your baby can be as effective, or even more so, than any educational toy. But there is no denying the benefits toys have on our kids. The question is how to choose the best toy for toddlers. Here are a few ideas:
Toy musical instruments Toys that make sounds, not just those that talk, are good choices for young children. Toys that mimic real musical instruments, on the other hand, develop the gross and fine and motor skills of kids.
“When choosing toys, think of those that do not just target speaking skills, but also listening. For babies and toddlers, start with mobiles that have sounds. Rattles are good, too,” Cristina A. Aligada, M.A., principal of Laro, Lapis at Libro, Inc., a special school in Marikina and consultant for Special Education as well as a part-time faculty at the Department of Child Development and Education in Miriam College’s College of Education, told SmartParenting.com.ph.
Building blocks Blocks are good for developing a toddler's fine motor skills, according to Dr. Victoria Dominique Ang, a developmental pediatrician at Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan. “Your child can also be creative with them and use them to pretend to build all sorts of things like a tower, a train or a bridge,” Dr. Ang says. “Later on, they can also be used to teach different concepts such as colors and numbers.”
Instead of packing away the blocks after he finishes playing, leave the unfinished block formation in the playroom so he does not need to start from scratch each time, suggests Tanya Franco-Velasco, a professor at the Department of Child Development and Education at the College of Education of Miriam College. It will give your child a sense of accomplishment for his work.
Wooden toys Franco-Velasco considers considers wooden toys as the safest for a child “because they do not have sharp edges and do not brittle and shatter with age.” The mom of 2- and a 3-year-old adds wooden toys are typically durable. “With proper handling and care, they can be wonderful hand-me-downs from one sibling to the next.”
Toys for pretend play Imaginative or pretend play, like “lutu-lutuan,” plays a vital role in many areas of growth including cognitive, social and emotional, language and communication, problem-solving and creativity, said Scott Barry Kaufman, a cognitive psychologist specializing in development, in an article for Psychology Today. It's even better when the little one has a playmate to play pretend with, says Aligada.
Stuffed toys It's normal for tots to form attachments with stuffed toys or blankets. In fact, there are a few benefits to having these loveys around as well. “The ability to form deep attachments is one of the most important emotional qualities you want to help your child develop. As children are learning to attach to people, they also like to attach to things, and this attachment to people and things will help your child ease into independence,” says renowned pediatrician Dr. William Sears in a column for Parenting.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, stuffed toys serve as “transitional objects.” They help children make the emotional transition from dependence to independence. They also serve as coping mechanisms to help a child feel better when she’s feeling stressed, scared, or worried.