Home > Babies and Toddlers > Health and Safety > General Care and Hygiene > Baby Products > Choosing Appropriate Toys for Your Baby

Choosing Appropriate Toys for Your Baby

Today's toy stores offer thousands of products from which to choose, and that's just in the newborn and infant aisles. Unless you want to turn your home into a toy store, you need some criteria to help narrow the field.

Here's what to look for:

  • Age-appropriateness. Your baby will get the most enjoyment out of a toy only if he can use it. An age-appropriate toy encourages or challenges your baby to use and improve one or more developing skills. This consideration becomes increasingly important as your baby grows older and more sophisticated. A toy that doesn't offer any challenge may bore him. On the other hand, if it's too hard to use, a toy may frustrate your infant. By the time he develops the skills needed to enjoy a toy he received prematurely, he may have lost interest in it entirely.
  • Safety. Although toy manufacturers' age recommendations do take safety into account, you should carefully examine any plaything you plan to give your baby. During the first year, your baby will bang, drop, kick, pull, throw, bite, and suck on any toy you give him. To hold up under this kind of treatment, a toy needs to be durable. If it is breakable, your child will no doubt break it into pieces. If it has small parts, your baby will break them off. To prevent choking, avoid toys that have any parts smaller than two inches in diameter. Because your child will undoubtedly chew on his toys, they should be painted or finished with non-toxic materials. Finally, they should be easily washable so that you can keep them (relatively) clean and (relatively) free of germs.
    In addition to these major safety concerns, you should also consider the weight of any toy. Your baby will inevitably drop any toy onto his toes or bang it into his face. Avoid toys that will hurt him when he does. Also avoid any plaything with sharp edges or with strings or ribbons long enough to wrap around your baby's neck.
  • Stimulation. If used correctly, a good toy will do something to stimulate one of your baby's senses (touch, sight, sound, or taste) or his developing abilities (hand-eye coordination, gross motor control, fine motor control, and so on).
  • Variety. Consider the toys you already have before buying any new toys. Try to select toys that offer your baby different colors, different textures, different shapes, and different sounds. By opting for variety, you expose your child at a very early age to the myriad of possibilities the world has to offer.
  • Simplicity. In general, the simpler the toy, the longer it will last. Simple toys have fewer parts and therefore prove more durable than more complicated toys. Simple toys also tend to offer more versatility. Today your child can hold it, next month he can throw it, and next year he can use it as a prop for make-believe play.

Whatever toys you choose, let your baby play with them in any way he chooses. After all, just because you know the "right" way to play with a certain toy doesn't mean that your baby can't come up with new and ingenious uses on his own.

More on: Babies


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Bringing Up Baby © 1997 by Kevin Osborn. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

st. patrick’s day

Celebrate the
luck of the Irish
with recipes
and activities.



10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks