Anytime of the year is the right time to find a great gift for a child, or for an adult who enjoys "the child within."
How do you go about finding that special gift of a toy, plaything or game?
Children and adults love bears, stuffed animals, dolls, board games, recorded sounds and fun gadgets. Ask about their favorite objects, and you are certain to find something that they will enjoy.
But what about the buying gifts for babies? Those precious, new people in your life who cannot tell you what they want, but who will definitely show you what they think about your presents, either with cute gurgles and happy smiles, or with complete indifference to that hard-won gift you survived traffic and shopping malls to acquire?
For baby, a special teddy or stuffed animal is always fun to look at; many special objects provide stimulation and others are interesting to watch and respond to.
As the baby grows, the most stimulating toys will still be played with, and perhaps carried around from room to room.
Consider a nice mobile for visual stimulation. Look for one with music, or buy a mobile and a recorder with an assortment of good musical selections.
Music helps with auditory stimulation, so another choice might be a music box. They are so much fun to listen to, and so very soothing.
Mobiles might be best for active babies who need something to occupy their time, and music boxes might work best for cranky babies who need some help falling asleep.
Look for a crib mirror, which is perfect for observation and interaction. Baby will enjoy looking and talking to his or her image. Soft toys can be perfect for entertaining the baby at about three months.
Music is not the only sound that a baby will like; look for interesting rattles that offer clutching and shaking sounds. Babies find them not only fun to listen to and to watch, but also great to chew on when teething. You can find a variety of specific and recommend shapes, textures and styles for different functions.
Some rattles make the best noises. Some shapes are better for teething babies. You can choose between a variety of soft shapes and different textures and styles. You can make a selection based on what you like and the features that your baby is ready for.
Play games with your baby to expand its enjoyment of interacting, laughing and being playful.
There are also many different "peek-a-boo" objects, moving and hiding toys and other fun products that you can use to stimulate and support the mental and social development of babies.
This is a good time to remind you of some safety tips for all young children
- Make sure the product package clearly states the age range so that you do not give a child a product that is not appropriate for its developmental level.
- Watch out for small objects that are left around by accident, as babies can pick them up easily. We don't want any accidents, so avoiding these ahead of time is the best way to "child proof" your home or wherever you travel.
There is more about suggested gifts and tips on playing with your baby in my book Smart Play/Smart Toys.
© 2013 Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, Dr. Toy, San Francisco CA