Sometimes parents feel that
they need to buy expensive educational toys for their babies.
Don’t be fooled by fancy words and
packages. Almost anything your
baby can play with safely is
something she can learn from.
Your baby learns through her senses—her eyes, nose, mouth, fingers and
ears. Try to provide hand-made toys that stimulate all of her senses. The
toys below take only a few minutes to make, and they are free! Throw them
away when your baby outgrows them or they become ragged. Keep your
Noisemakers: Gather a few things that make noise. You might choose a
rattle, an unopened box of rice, a large whistle and an alarm clock. As you sit with your baby, shake the rattle. Talk about the sound. Compare it to the
sound rice makes when you shake the box. Gently blow the whistle. Then
turn the alarm clock on and off. Talk about the different sounds.
Check tiny toys for safe size: Use the cardboard tube from a toilet paper roll to judge the safety of a toy. If the toy passes through the tube, it’s
too small for your baby to play with safely.
Smelling fragrances: Gather a variety of objects with interesting smells
like soap, mint, candles or creams. Put a small amount in your hand or on
your finger. Hold it to your baby’s nose and talk about the smell. “This is
soap. We take a bath with it. Do you like it?”
Feeling the outdoors: Take your baby outdoors. Let her sit on a blanket
on the grass. Stay close and keep your arms around her. Let her touch the
grass. Talk to her about how it feels—wet, dry, smooth, prickly. Move her to
a sand pile, sidewalk or park bench. Again, let her touch the surface. Use
words like warm, cold, rough, smooth, bumpy and hard.
Looking at animals: Tear out several large pictures of animals from old
magazines. Look at the pictures with your baby. Point to the animal. Tell
the baby about the animal. Make a noise that sounds like that animal. For
example, show a picture of a sheep. Say, “Here’s the sheep’s head. It has soft
wool all over its body. A sheep says ‘Baaah.’”
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