Babies are born with the ability to hear. In fact, babies can hear before they are born. A newborn baby will respond favorably to the sound of parental voices that were heard when the baby was in the womb. Many parents read to their babies and played music for them before they were born. A baby is born with hearing that is as developed as an adult’s hearing.
A newborn baby’s world consists of hearing, seeing, sleeping, playing, and eating. The newborn is also learning how to interact with mother, father, and their environment. Each newborn is unique. Some babies are happy and content and some are fussy and demanding. There are many toys being manufactured that are geared to the newborn.
It is not surprising to find a bevy of products that are designed to soothe the newborn baby. One such product called “Sea Dreams” is made to fit on the crib railing. It has a screen that looks like an aquarium with moving water and animated fish in vivid colors. The toy has motion, lights, and sound. It plays classical melodies and ocean sounds. The lights and music gradually lessen as the baby drifts off to sleep. This particular item comes with a remote so that parents can activate the toy from a distance in order to allow the parents to manipulate the toy without disturbing their infant. These sights and sounds stimulate baby’s early development and contribute to a feeling on the baby’s part that his environment is pleasurable and safe. Some soothing toys have sounds that mimic the mother’s heartbeat. This will give the newborn a sense of familiarity and security. Many babies have pacifiers to help in the soothing process.
Another product designed to soothe is the adjustable infant wrap, which is good for the baby who likes to be swaddled. The infant wrap helps the baby sleep peacefully and keeps the baby snug just as if he were in the comfort of the womb. It also keeps the baby from startling awake, an action that newborns often exhibit. The wrap works better than just swaddling the baby in a blanket.
Toys for newborns need to be soft and durable. Texture is important since the newborn will be learning through touch as he/she grows. Plush, stuffed animals are often the first soft and cuddly toys babies encounter. Many newborns enjoy toys with satiny ribbons or ones that make crinkly sounds. Babies need visual, auditory, and tactile stimulation. This stimulation helps to strengthen the child’s speaking, reading, and writing skills later on.
The newborn brain is developing as babies eat, play, and are being consoled. Sleep routines and regular routines are important and help babies to trust in their surroundings. A bored baby is usually a fussy baby. Toys help to keep the baby engaged.
One of the primary ways a baby learns is by putting things in his mouth. From birth to around twenty-four months, babies are attracted to soft teething books, rattles and teething rings. All of these products are mouth friendly and are easy to clean and sterilize. Many teething books have different textures and crinkly sounding materials on the pages. Some have soft mirrors in the books. Teething books are colorful with age appropriate content for newborns and older tots.
Plastic teething toys come in various shapes and colors. Plastic keys on a ring are very popular. The baby can mouth these rings or shake them with his hand as they make clacking noises. It is a good idea to have a lot of these kinds of teething toys in a plastic container. As the baby grows he can choose his favorite ones to play with or if he gets bored with one teething toy, he can always reach for a new one.
Brightly colored rattles are long standing favorites for infants. Some rattles can be attached to the baby’s wrist, causing the rattle to make noise as the baby moves his hand. The child will eventually realize that he is causing the rattle to make a sound. This is a very empowering moment.
Mobiles are popular toys for newborns and range from simple designs to ones with lights, movement, music or white sounds. Some are equipped with big start buttons that the baby may unintentionally kick or hit with his hand, thereby accidentally starting the mobile. Later, by twelve weeks or less, the baby will learn that when he presses the big button he can start the mobile. Many mobiles have mirrors on them that help to begin the process of face recognition.
Playing helps a baby to develop cognitive skills such as learning, thinking, and problem solving. The infant is learning social and emotional skills as well as language and communication skills. Physical development begins as the baby moves his body, arms, and legs. Baby gyms are great for a baby’s development. The gym comes with a brightly covered mat usually decorated with animals or cartoon characters. The mat is good for the baby to experience tummy time where he learns to hold his head up and to push up with his hands. These exercises are precursors to crawling. The different animals and characters on the mat will draw the baby’s interest and encourage him to lift up and move. Most of the time, the baby is laid on his back. An arch is placed over him with toys hanging from the arch. The baby can bat at the toys and coo. Some gyms have lights, music, and nature sounds that are activated when the baby touches the toys. The baby is learning to reach and grasp. He is using both gross motor (large movements) and fine motor (smaller movements) skills which enhance reading and writing. As the child reaches out from the middle of his chest and progresses to reaching past the middle of the chest, his brain is developing. There are lines in the body that cross meridians. Reaching above the waist or below the waist develops the brain. Reaching from side to side crosses a meridian. Moving an arm, leg, or body in a figure eight pattern crosses meridians. The more meridians a baby crosses, the better developed the brain becomes. Toys help babies to cross meridians.
Baby blocks are toys that have been around for a long time. Children still love them. These blocks can be made from soft plastic or fabric. Some blocks have bells or rattles inside which attracts the baby’s attention.
Hanging kid friendly wind chimes from the ceiling is an excellent way to distract a fussy baby. An adult stands up and moves from one chime to anther causing each one to make a noise. The baby will stop fussing and look to see what the adult is doing. Four or five chimes in a room are enough. More in a room is even better. When the adult reaches the last chime, he/she can go back and start from the beginning. Children and babies are fascinated with chimes.