In all honesty, babies don't need toys, at least not baby-specific toys. Beyond all the eye-catching, colourful, and noisy baby toys on the market, many everyday household items will easily stimulate and entertain your baby.
When my daughter was a baby I found it easy to catch her attention with items from around the house, and she would often dismiss toys in favour of non-baby items she could find and touch. So don't worry about getting the latest gadget or the most colourful and loud toy on the market, believe me, your eyes and ears will thank you.
Babies love textures
Babies enjoy learning and touching new textures and there are many safe household items you can give your baby to enjoy. Offering your baby tempting textures will encourage them to use their hands and improve their hand-eye coordination. Try these typical household textures:
- A clean dishwashing sponge will introduce a rough texture.
- Soft furnishings such as a snuggly blanket or a wool jumper will be a soft item to show them.
- A clean wooden spoon will be appealing and will be safe for them to explore.
- Smooth metal such as a drinking bottle or metal bowl will be enticing to touch.
Try different sounds
You can introduce your baby to new sounds around your home easily with a little bit of creativity. Introducing your baby to different sounds will help them to develop their listening skills which in turn will help them to develop language and social skills.
- If you have several mixing bowls you can tap the sides of each one with your fingers or a spoon to make a sound.
- Baking paper or tin foil makes a satisfying crunching noise your baby will be intrigued by.
- You can make a rattle using dry rice taped into a plastic bottle.
- Pouring water from one cup to another will make a soothing tinkling sound.
- Simply playing music can greatly benefit your child’s development and help them to observe and interact with the world around them.
Be creative with colour
Introducing your baby to colours, especially contrasting colours can aid brain stimulation and growth and help their visual development. Between the age of 5-8 months, babies start to recognise different colours, however they are particularly drawn to contrasting colours. You can help to stimulate your baby through colour play by trying these ideas:
- Collect safe and interesting household items in groups of the same colour. Grouping colours will be visually interesting for your baby and will help them to recognise different colours.
- Scarf play. If you have a colourful silk scarf you can play with your baby by holding or swishing the scarf in front of them.
- Coloured ice. Use fruit juice to make brightly coloured ice cubes, place them in a clear plastic bottle and let your baby watch as you shake it.
- Collect coloured paper from newspapers, flyers, and food packaging for greeting cards to create a colourful collage. You can make different shapes that you can spread on the floor for tummy time. Black and white shapes will also work well for young babies.
There are many wonderful ways to play with a young baby without buying lots of toys and cluttering your house or breaking the bank. Believe me, as they get older that will happen anyway, so enjoy the time when you can entertain your baby with a simple spatula!