No Batteries Required! Part 1
Isn’t it fun to browse the toy stores with your baby? You can really spend a fortune on products that say they will teach your baby to spell and count and appreciate music and develop their sensory skills, and improve fine motor skills, and just about everything else you can imagine.Or perhaps it’s depressing, when there isn’t enough money to buy the latest Baby Einstein gadget, and you feel guilty that your baby will miss out on the educational experience they promise.
But what do babies want? They look at the bleeping, singing toys with flashing lights in the store in wonder, and their parents think they will love the toy, and buy it, only to have baby be quickly bored with it. Because after pushing all the buttons, what does it actually do?
But there are toys that are good value (or even free), endlessly entertaining, and educational, and much more so than anything that needs batteries!
Every baby – both sexes – should have building blocks, balls, containers, and a doll.
Building bricks or blocks are great for honing fine motor skills, and fascinate babies, toddlers, preschoolers and beyond. Build a tower for a baby to smash! Older babies love to build their own towers to knock down. Blocks teach engineering skills – a baby must learn how to make a tower or a bridge stay up. And believe it or not, math skills too. If you count blocks, or show your baby how two small blocks are the same size as one big block, you are teaching her math.
Balls are cheap and fun to drop, roll, bounce, catch and kick. They are great for developing gross motor skills. Dads, and often grandads, can be shy, or even think it’s not masculine, to play with babies. Balls are a great toy to bring man and baby together.
Containers Give baby a container. Baby will put things in, dump them out. Repeat x 1000.
Containers are good to stack, nest, sort by size, fill and empty. Great for fine motor skills, and learning the concepts of spatial relationships, In, Out, On, Under. And size too, ask her how many balls fit in the big pot? How many fit in the little pot? Does a big pot fit in the small pot? Or the small pot in the big pot?
This one can be free – baby will be just as happy with the pots from a 6-pack of apple sauce or an ice cream tub as she will be with store brought toy containers. Any activity that entertains your baby, and involves eating ice cream has got to be a winner!
Dolls (If you have a son, and can’t bear to buy a dolly, then a teddy bear, or clown, or animal) are wonderful for teaching social skills, empathy, and last well beyond baby and toddlerhood. Dolls are wonderful for explaining concepts to a baby. A great way to explain about bedtime to an older baby is to help them put a dolly to bed. And it’s precious to watch your baby hugging a dolly who’s had a boo boo – even if baby caused the boo boo by throwing Dolly from the couch! If you are on a budget, there’s lots of websites with patterns to make a beautiful doll from scraps. What could be better than your baby cherishing a dolly you made?
What else is great, simple fun for baby to play with? Check out Part 2!