When youíre bringing home your infant for the first time, there are a lot of things to think about. It can be quite overwhelming. Do you have everything youíll need? Is your baby going to sleep well? Will he/she be colicky or not? Each question is just as important as the next. Something that may briefly touch your thoughts but quickly leave is the question of whether or not the toys you have for him/her will hold his/her interests? Though this does not seem as important in comparison with basic human needs, it is important based on the evidence that babies need nurturing stimulation in order to thrive. Of course, they need food, shelter, and caring individuals, but their minds need to be stimulated as well. Toys today are designed with this idea in mind from the very first day of their lives at home with their parents.
Many toys that are designed for infants in their first few months of life show extreme contrasts of color. This is because when babies are born, they have the sense of sight, but itís not very good. Using sharply contrasting colors helps them to focus on an object. That focus, in turn, stimulates the brain to further its cognitive development. When a toy is very colorful, but the colors are close in hue to one another, the baby will not be able to make the distinction from one hue to another. The colors will blend together and the babyís mind will not be told to focus or stimulated to try to make any progress toward variations.
As babies get older, their eyesight improves and they are able to make great contrasts between all colors. At this point, toys designed from about six months on, take the focus away from color contrast, though the toys are usually still quite colorful, the focus now is on body movement. Now is the time that play yards, with something arching over their heads or something that they can kick and there will be a response, becomes useful. They are being encouraged to move themselves to the dangling object. This stimulates the baby to connect the motion of their hand and arm to the rest of their body. They are slowly realizing that this arm is in their control. The brain is learning about the uses of the different body parts. A toy that the baby can kick and will show a response will begin to teach baby cause and effect. In other words, the baby will begin to cognitively understand that when their foot makes connection with the object, the object will light up or play a song.
Toys designed for infant stimulation help those infants grow into curious toddlers. Those toddlers then become interested children, plugged in teenagers, and eventually educated, responsible adults. Every toy that is given to baby will help to teach him/her about their world and his/her place in it. Toys that encourage growth and learning will reap benefits for many years to come.