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Best Toys for Infants: No Purchase Necessary

Having explored the importance of quality play, the types of toys that support healthy play and those that do not, let’s look now at specific toys for infants (0-12month olds). Today we will look at what’s immediately available, no purchase required. Next we will explore types of toys to consider purchasing.

Remember: children develop at different rates. These are general ideas for supporting child development through play.

Especially for young babies, you are their best toy! Make facial expressions, sing, dance, and gently move their body parts to a rhythm – these are the kinds of rich interactions that help them develop relationships and learn about the world around them.

Containers such as nesting measuring cups, shoe boxes, or empty milk jugs are wonderful for stacking, filling and dumping.

Big household objects like a laundry basket or large box make quick homemade fun for a baby to explore climbing into, pushing and pulling.

Interacting with your baby about what you hear, see and smell as you walk around your home or your neighborhood enriches your child’s experiences and vocabulary.

We’ve all heard accounts of baby’s favorite present being the box and tissue paper. What household objects proved favorite toys with children in your life? Share your memories.

Adapted from TRUCE Guide on Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media, with permission from the Child Life Council.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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Infant and Toddler Toys to Avoid: Beware of Branding

Our exploration of quality play started with Throw Away the Script and Engage the Imagination. Now TRUCE shares even more reasons we ought to avoid toys and other items based on TV shows…

Even though children want toys that are based on characters from TV shows or movies, these toys encourage consumerism, unhealthy food choices, and limit your child’s imagination.

Serena received a Baby Elmo stuffed animal as a baby gift and her parents had placed it in her crib where she had slept with it every night since. Now at age 18 months, when she and her mother are in the grocery store, and she sees Elmo’s face on a box of unhealthy snack food, she cries when her mother will not buy the product.

Toys, clothing and foods often use a TV character, like from Disney or Sesame Street, to capture young children’s attention. Why is this a problem? Whenever kids see it, they want it because it’s familiar. These kinds of licensing agreements, which support branding efforts, can lead to unwise buying choices, unhealthy eating habits and nagging.

to be continued next week…

With permission from the Child Life Council,  PlayopolisToys is pleased to share this most informative and thought provoking article with you, section by section. TRUCE Guide on Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media, reprinted from the Winter 2010 Child Life Council Bulletin.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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What Types of Toys Support Healthy Play?

Our last blog entry addressed the question Why Is Quality Play So Important? Now that we’ve defined the essential character of quality play, let’s move on to explore What Types of Toys Support Healthy Play? The answer goes beyond my suggestion that you Throw Away the Script and Engage the Imagination.

A quality infant and toddler toy can be used in many ways.

A quality toy can be used in more than one way and will grow with your child. For example, a set of nesting blocks can be used for many things: filling, dumping and stacking when your toddler is young, and as car garages, towers, for sorting, and homes for animals as she grows!

A quality infant and toddler toy engages the senses.

Young babies learn by using all of their senses. They like play that involves materials with a variety of texture, as well as lots of physical contact, singing and dancing. For older toddlers, play with sand, finger paint and shaving cream provides opportunities for learning using touch, smell, sight and sound.

A quality infant and toddler toy allows children to use their imaginations.

Look for stuffed animals or dolls that aren’t from a TV show, or other media, to allow your child to create her own play ideas. Developing creativity and problem solving skills is important for life long learning.

A quality infant and toddler toy lets children make decisions about their play.

A quality toy does not do something for the child. Instead, the child finds pleasure and satisfaction from doing something to the toy. For example, a soft and simple doll can do whatever your child imagines, while a battery-operated doll that talks limits what your child might pretend.

What does this kind of play look like?

When you child builds with blocks, she is learning many important skills such as: creativity as she creates a unique structure of her own design; physical development as she develops fine motor skills; and thinking as she explores relationships among object size, shape and balance.

When you share a book with your little one, you are developing social and emotional skills through parent/child bonding; language development and literacy skills as he learns new vocabulary, enjoys hearing stories, and learns to “read” the pictures to see what is happening; and creativity as you are supporting the development of his imagination.

With permission from the Child Life Council,  PlayopolisToys is pleased to share this most informative and thought provoking article with you, section by section. TRUCE Guide on Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media, reprinted from the Winter 2010 Child Life Council Bulletin.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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Why is Quality Play So Important?

Play is essential to early learning; children need to be actively involved in their play in order to develop basic learning skills. Doctors and teachers say it’s how your young child learns about herself and her world.

Quality play promotes close relationships:
The most important part of your child’s healthy development is safe, trusting relationships with your and the other caregivers in her life. Interacting with your child through positive, supportive play experiences will help her gain the confidence she needs to build loving and healthy relationships.

Quality play promotes language:
One of the greatest achievements in the first three years of life is the development of language. Talking with your baby and toddler about what is happening around him while playing and responding to his sounds, words, and gestures lays the foundation for healthy brain development, as well as future success learning how to read and write at school.

Quality play promotes creativity:
Creative play experiences come from your child’s interests and abilities. It’s the process that’s important in creative play – when they do, not the product they make in the end. Current brain research shows that children learn best when they experiment and discover for themselves rather than being shown by adults.

Quality play promotes physical development:
It’s important that you provide time for active play in a safe, open space with materials that allow children to move their bodies and use their senses. Limit time spent in car seats, swings, and other restricted spaces.

Quality play promotes thinking skills:
The kind of play described in this guide, gives your child the opportunity to learn concepts and problem solving strategies which are critical for future academic learning in science, math and literacy.

Quality play promotes social skills:
Through play, your child will learn how to get along with others. Although your young child may not be developmentally ready to “play” with other children, interactive experiences will help set the foundation for future friendships.

With permission from the Child Life Council, PlayopolisToys is pleased to share this most informative and thought provoking article with you, section by section.  TRUCE Guide on Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media, reprinted from the Winter 2010 Child Life Council Bulletin.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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TRUCE Guide on Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media

Soon after posting Throw Away the Script and Play, I received the Winter 2010 Child Life Council Bulletin. Imagine my absolute delight when I opened the publication and found a series of articles on play, toys, and media in Child Life Focus. One article, reprinted with permission from TRUCE, Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment, validated and expanded upon the points I had made in my blog. That was an awesome experience.

With permission from the Child Life Council, I am sharing this most informative and thought provoking article, TRUCE Guide on Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media, with you, section by section. I am eager to know what you think and invite your comments.

Let’s start a dialogue on play. What is quality play? Why is it essential to a child’s development? Let us hear from you, and if we post your comments, we’ll send you a coupon for $5.00 off any order of $50.00 or more.

And now for the article:

You want to provide your little one with experiences that will enhance healthy play and development. This guide will help you understand why quality play is vital for your child’s growth and what you can do to support it.

What is different about play today?
Creative play is being challenged because:
– Infants and toddlers are spending many hours in front of a screen.
– Many toys are marketed as educational when in fact there is no evidence to prove it.
– The increasing number of electronic toys, games and DVD’s often turns our infants and toddlers into passive players whose main activity becomes pushing a button.
– Toys are often linked to popular media characters. Branding toys for the very young means that when they are older they often want an item simply because it is linked to a familiar character, not because of the quality of the toy.

to be continued next week…

With permission from the Child Life Council, we at PlayopolisToys are pleased to share this most informative and thought provoking article with you, section by section.  TRUCE Guide on Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media, reprinted from the Winter 2010 Child Life Council Bulletin.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play