Sep 22, 2006

How Many Toys?

How many toys should a kid have? Fox saw my last post and said she had 8-month old twins. She asked how a child's intelligence could be increased between 8 and 18 months. Rather than respond in the comments section, my answer is here.

I don't know what Ph.D.'s say to do to aid your baby's intelligence, but games and new toys seem to me to work. No, not the kind you buy in the toy department--the ones you get out of the kitchen, the closet, your junk drawer, or the wastebasket. Of course, nothing unsafe that babies can swallow or try to eat, or that will cut, burn, pinch, or hurt their eyes.

Last night, I babysat for one of my grandchildren who is between 8 and 18 months old. She played with an apple for a long time because it rolled sideways on the kitchen floor and had a stem to grab onto. She also played and laughed with one of the cats by holding a long weed we picked from her yard. That produced lots of fun and smiles because the cats normally do not come close to her because she pulls their fur. A rolling popcan (full) allowed her to crawl after it on the kitchen floor. We also played with the mailbox handle and red flag--opening and closing it and moving it up and down.

Last month, she played for almost a half hour with a bucket of water and a small rag and cup--that's a great set of toys! She only stopped playing when she slapped her hand down into the plastic bowl and splashed water all over her face.

A long thread or string is a toy. A throwaway DVD is a toy (perhaps not for older kids who might crack it, but a little one will simply put their finger in the hole and look at the shine and reflections). An old medicine bottle with a childproof cap can be used as a rattle. A shoe with buckles is a toy. Sandpaper is a toy, but keep your eye on the baby and take it away after a couple of minutes. A plastic sack with tied knots can be a toy. A hair brush is a toy. Toys are all over the house and you can use any that are safe and that won't fit into baby's mouth. [A big exception is dirt--kids love to play in dirt, but you need to stay by them to keep them from trying to eat it.]

At a young age, a toy is simply anything that will cause the child to investigate its appearance and feel, and how it works. Next time you start to throw something in the trash, think about whether it safe to give to your babies to play with for ten minutes. THEN throw it away.

Children's games are much the same way. Peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek always seems to bring a smile from the little ones. I tossed a light plastic ball back and forth last night with my little granddaughter, another game. A game might be to teach the child to somersault or to ride a pony on your knee. A game is really anything that two of you can play together.

Add the reading of books and dancing to music--and you'll have bright and winning children!


fox said...

Thanks for the great toy ideas!

Gee....I guess this means I will actually have to spend some time with them instead of plopping them in front of the tv....JUST KIDDING!! (hehehehe)

M. Alexander said...

One note of caution, the 5 gallon bucket that you show are known to be the cause of drowning for toddlers who can fall into the bucket headfirst and not have the strength or agility to get themselves out.

Great post though. I try to focus on physical closeness, verbal stimulations- not only speech but sounds, making faces while talking, singing, and different tactile sensations- lamb's wool, dirt, gravel, pine needles, pine cones. And one thing that my kids loved to do as babies is to take the cap on and off soda bottles. To avoid choking hazards I would use the 1 liter size bottles.

I love babies - they are so amazed at the world!