Toys Toys Everywhere…

Toys Toys Everywhere

When my son was just a baby, I often found myself standing in a toy store once a month (at least) looking at the array of colourful, musical, soft and feely, bright and plastic, big, small, complicated and alluring toys… whew! And I thought “which one do I get?”

I always went for the fairly expensive variety that included loads of knobs, lights and tunes… and they are now sitting in my son’s cupboard, silent from a lack of batteries, their colourful patterns and shapes hidden behind a pile of freshly washed towels.

My son hardly ever played with one of these toys for more than a few minutes and completely lost interest. I always thought “maybe next time I’ll pick the right one”, but never actually stopped to ask myself what kind of toys would actually be good for him.

In the most extensive study of its kind as to what toys actually do make a difference, Craig Ramey of the University of Alabama found that it was the old fashioned – no batteries required – toys that made the biggest difference in enhancing cognitive, motor and language development.

It’s toys like building blocks, beads and peek-a-boo… It’s sorting socks by colour or listening to the soothing cadences of a fairytale read by mom or dad. It’s singing action songs and clapping to the music. It’s playing in the sand and climbing the jungle gym…

What do all of the above toys have in common? Can you guess? The answer is a bit of imagination and some parental input. Babies and children just love activities that include excitement, emotional input from parents, and being physically involved in the experience.

What really grows their minds and holds their attention is you. More than anything, your input makes the biggest difference for your baby. You don’t have to spend a fortune on flashy toys, or stand for hours in the toy store wondering what on earth to buy today – you’ve got the answer – go back to basics, focus on simple, practical, and old fashioned.

Now… isn’t that good news?

Words: Loren Stow
when we know better… we do better
*Practica Parents: The programme is based on this very concept – that ‘old fashioned’ is good for a very good reason. The programme tells you how to play age-old games in different ways and at different ages in order to develop different skills. As we always say, it’s about doing the right thing at the right time, you just have to jump in and play!

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