Don't be fooled, baby toys aren't just for fun.
Playtime is an opportunity not only for amusement, but also for education and physical development. Remember that the first three years of a child's life are when the brain develops. These years will affect their life more than any other period. Children have distinct needs specific to their developmental stages. Vision, tactile response, hand-eye coordination and motor skills, just to name a few, will all be assisted by the first baby toys they play with. Story time and role-playing stimulates the imagination and develops concentration. Art projects encourage creativity. Singing, music, and games in other languages develop an affinity for music and other cultures. Cooking, gardening, and pretend play other home activities stimulate growth for cooperation and responsibility.
Children have natural creativity and a sense of wonder that is enhanced by play. A baby toy or activity that is too challenging or not challenging enough will not provide enjoyment or satisfaction. Baby toys that are open-ended (i.e. whose purpose is not too specific) encourage imaginative play and help develop physical coordination, social interaction, and mental aptitude.
Open-ended baby toys encourage children to create a new identity for that baby toy each time she plays, challenging the imagination. These are toys that invite the child to foster inventive play and fulfill needs in a given area of fun. They are sturdy, durable and well-made, promoting an appreciation for quality workmanship and beauty. When possible, try and choose wooden toys and toys made from natural materials. The long life of quality baby toys reflects superior and lasting values; they are messages about what is important in their world.
I break down the different developmental stages by age range and discuss what is happening, what is developing and how you can help. I also make recommendations on which baby toys are good for that stage of development.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of skills or stages and I encourage you to review the links I provide for additional information or even different views from my recommendations, research and philosophy. I have a two year old daughter and a baby boy and on the way and I'm doing this because I want to make their lives as fullfilling and successfull as I can, if you can further your children also along the way, that's great!
Oh Baby Development Chart - they break out the stages nicely.
BabyCenter - has a great weekly email that reminds you what to expect from baby, based on their birthdate.
Quality Baby Toys - Wonderful baby toy online store, Oompa Toys - this is where you can get more information of many of my toy recommendations including Haba Toys and Selecta Toys.