Do Infants Need Toys?

baby-roomThis question comes up time and again in our classes and online.  It really does bring up the question, what do infants need?

There is more and more research on what an infant needs.  Recently, the book by Paul Tough, Helping Children Succeed, highlighted that an infant needs a loving environment in which to grow. He goes on to explain that it falls to the adults in an infant’s life to prepare and maintain that environment.  The book explains that the infant’s initial environment lays the foundation for all future learning and can be the basis for developing “grit” (a recent buzz word in education).

So what should an infant’s environment include?  Here are a few principles to follow:

a) Safety and comfort: a place to sleep…place to eat …a place to be changed

b) Stimulation and challenge: a place to play and a place to move.  This gets us to the question, do infants need toys?  What they need is interesting and challenging things to do.  So this could mean toys.  Baby’s like rattles, mobiles, and music boxes…ring stackers, pegs, and object permanence boxes.  They also like pets, other children, and nature.  So wether you have a small basket with rattles to play with or a blanket on the grass and trees to watch, your infant needs activity and engagement. 

Talking with your child is another form of engagement and helps him start to understand his world, build a strong base for vocabulary, and be included in social interaction.  For those of you looking for some great early toys to acquire, or the perfect gift for a new baby, here is a list of a few of my favorites:

bell rattle   pegs    ring stacker

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