Few parents want anything more than to help their babies learn as much as possible, and these days, there are many ways to help babies learn. From spending time talking to them to enrolling them in great early learning programs, there are a variety of different ways to help babies learn and give them the head start he or she needs in life. One fantastic way to start your child down the right path is to offer him the right gifts from the very start.
Play Mats: These come in all shapes and sizes, and the best ones give your little one a chance to have a fantastic time before he can even move around. The goal here is to encourage early motor skills like lifting the head, reaching for toys, and sitting up. It can be tough to choose the ideal one, but here are a few of the best. The Lamaze Space Symphony Motion Gym gives you a play mat and a play gym all in one. If you do a bit of tummy time each day, the big sun shaped mirror in the middle can help. There are even musical features to help get baby excited. The Fisher Price Ocean Wonders Kick and Crawl Aquarium Play Mat is another good choice. It, too, incorporates a play gym into the mat, and there are lots of great mirrors and dangling toys to help keep babies of all sizes interested in it.
Mobiles: As your baby begins to grow, stimulation means knowledge, and the best way to stimulate baby is through colorful, creative toys like mobiles. There are a number of good choices out there, too. The Wimmer-Ferguson Infant Stim-Mobile by Manhattan Toy has been top rated for some time now, and with good reason. It incorporates both color and black and white images, which makes it great for tiny babies or older ones. It also includes interchangeable cards so baby doesn’t get bored. The Fisher-Price Rainforest Peek-A-Boo mobile is another really good choice. It’s easy to use and includes three different modes to help soothe or stimulate your baby.
Stacking Toys: Hand-eye coordination is a must-learn skill for babies, and stacking toys help them develop it like nothing else can. Depending on the toy you get, too, you may have an opportunity to discuss other topics like shapes, sizes, and colors. One great choice is the Lamaze Totem Pole. It’s packed with animals in bright colors and patterns that not only help baby stack, but stimulate his vision as well. The characters also have safe magnets inside so your toddler doesn’t get frustrated as he works this puzzle. Another good choice is by Alex Toys. It’s the Match and Stack Blocks set, and it has been recognized as an Oppenheimer Toy Portfolio Award Winner. The set includes ten brightly colored blocks that can either fit inside one another or be stacked up. On the outside of each are animals, monsters, numbers, and flowers.
Shape Sorters: Shape sorting is a key skill for little ones to learn because it helps with hand-eye coordination, and they also get a chance to learn more about how to group objects. There are some fantastic ones out there, but one of the best choices is the Infantino Jumbo Shape Sorter. An adorable elephant, it’s perfect for keeping baby entertained and helping him learn at the same time.
Musical Instruments: Music, in general, is a good way to help baby hear a variety of different sounds, but with musical instruments, your child has a chance to make those sounds himself. They may also help him discover his hands and feet, and they give you additional words to introduce to your child. There are a number of different sets designed for babies, but the Kids Preferred Amazing Baby Musical Instrument Set is one of the best. Inside you’ll find a maraca shaped like a fish, a musical snail, a castanet in the shape of a cat, and a soft tambourine. They’re all perfect for little hands and for creating that first band that could be a stepping stone to bigger things in life.
There are many ways to help babies learn, and while you don’t need a house filled with toys to help reinforce those early skills, it certainly can’t hurt to ensure you give him the boost he needs to get started.
Sarah Carlson is a writer who enjoys sharing articles on parenting, family and babies. She regularly contributes to the Baby Gifts & Baskets blog as well.