Newborns Play and Learn
By Josh Doyle
That little bundle of joy has arrived, and whether you’re a first-time parent or a veteran, that sweet little person deserves the best.
You want to entertain, teach, and nurture the little one from the beginning but how? What are the first baby toys you should buy?
No, really your face is the first toy your baby needs. Babies’ eyes always look toward the eyes and smile of the face in front of them. Keep in mind that babies can’t see very well, at all, so a newborn can’t see the mobile dangling over the crib or the TV across the room. What they can see is the face of the person holding them about 20 inches away. That’s about the same distance as that of the crook of your arm! So, if you hold your infant in your arms, and look into his face, that gives him the first toy he needs in his life. He will study your face and get to know it, and learn about facial expressions as they accompany tones of voice and emotions.
Remember that an infant doesn’t have very good vision. Everything blurs together. However, high contrast pictures will catch the baby’s eye. You’ll find flash cards, posters, and all kinds of baby products that are black and white swirls, bullseyes, triangles, and other geographic shapes that will exercise the baby’s eyes. The eyes will follow the direction of the lines, building eye muscles.
By the same token, remember not to over stimulate the baby. Having a room full of graphics and visual stimuli can be too much, stressing the infant. A baby needs to have a calm place that doesn’t place any demands on his synapsis.
These days, rattles are usually designed to not be so loud, but back in the “old days” they could damage the baby’s hearing. A rattle is a different sound that can attract the baby’s attention. Shake it gently behind the baby’s head, and see if he turns his head toward the sound. You can also hold it over his head and off to either side.
A PLUSH TOY
All babies need a plush toy, just to experience the softness and cuddly-ness. But there are other reasons. The baby can chew on the toy without hurting itself. Usually, a plush toy has a face, so the baby can begin to relate to the eyes, nose, and mouth on an inanimate object.
Yes, a dishcloth is an excellent toy for a baby. He can chew on it, grip it, shake it, and receive all kinds of tactile experiences from a dish cloth. It is also good for developing visual memory. Cover a favorite toy, such as your face, with the dishcloth and say, “Where’s Mommie?” (or Daddy, etc.), then remove the cloth. It’s just “peekaboo”, but babies don’t think you are there if they can’t see you.
Simple home items can be some of the best baby toys. So, look around the house before you go shopping.