In our house, toys are in abundance. I was lucky enough to give birth to the first grandchild for both families- and he does not want for anything. My son just turned one and currently has more toys in his first year of life than I managed to have my whole life. Our house is full of toys that squeak, squawk, sing and beep. Full of toys that laugh, light up, and move. I'm overwhelmed by the toy selection in our house.
My busy, one-year-old boy, on the other hand, chooses to play with empty paper towel rolls, plastic baby wipes containers, and Tupperware. If you give him a ball he is over the moon with excitement. He'll sit by himself for a good 30 minutes playing with his set of stacking cups or turning the pages and "reading his board books. Sure, he still enjoys playing with his other toys, but he wouldn't miss them if he didn't have them.
When it comes to buying toys for our one year olds, there are so many options out there that it can be overwhelming, not to mention expensive. Toy advertisers promise that their toys will teach cause and effect, colors, shapes, animal sounds, the alphabet, name recognition, and the list goes on and on. Really, these toys have limitations, unless baby is taught how to use them. Shopping for toys doesn't have to be overwhelming or expensive, you can find toys that serve multiple purposes, and sometimes the best toys are already in your home.
Blocks and nesting toys are great for one-year-olds. As gross motor skills are improving, baby is really proud of himself when he discovers he can carefully place one block on top of the other. Getting to knock the tower down at the end is equally exciting and is also a great lesson in cause and effect. Blocks and nesting toys can be bought in many different colors, patterns and materials that often double as sorting toys (by shape, size or color), bath toys, and even sensory toys (blocks can be found in wood, plastic, rubber and even foam). Check at home first though, that set of plastic measuring cups in the kitchen drawer makes a great nesting toy for baby.
When he isn't constructing towers and knocking them down, baby enjoys making sweet music. It might be hard to appreciate when a busy one year old is banging his toys together or pressing the same button on that light up piano over and over again, but baby is learning new sounds and is excited that he is making them happen. Musical, or noisy, toys are great at this stage. Tambourines, maracas, drums, toy keyboards, toys that squeak or crackle when squeezed are all great choices. Now is the perfect time to repurpose those baby rattles or pull out the pots and pans and wooden spoons. Toys that play music or make sounds when pushed or pulled are also great ways to get baby up and moving to the beat.
If you haven't noticed, your little shadow will often take time away from his toys to watch what you're doing, and maybe even try to imitate. At age one, baby is fascinated by what is happening all around him, and is ready to try and do it too. Lifelike toys are a lot of fun when you're one. Toy telephones, tools, dolls, kitchen utensils, cars, and a purse or bag like mom's are often favorites. Stores sell all of these things made for small hands, but these can easily be found around the house too. An unused phone, plastic spoons and bowls, or an old purse are easy finds, just check them over for small parts or anything else that might make them unsafe for play.
As for all of the other toys collected through birthdays, holidays, hand-me-downs, and even impulse buys (I've done it too), they're still great toys. If the amount of noisy, light up toys is overwhelming to us, it might be a little overwhelming to baby too. Try packing some of these toys up and putting them away. Leave a few out for baby, and spend time showing him how they work so that he can get the most out of them. After a month or two, put those toys away and bring out a few new toys. Keep cycling through the toys and once you've made it through them all, start over. Baby won't be as overwhelmed because there will be fewer things to choose from, and he'll be more excited about what is coming next!
@ by Rachael Miller
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