Guide to Choosing Age Appropriate Toys for Babies to 9 Year-Olds (By Guest Blogger, Katie Santos)

In addition to getting safe toys for kids, it’s also important that kids have toys that can help with their developmental and motor skills as well. Whether they are a few months old, or a few years old, children’s brains are constantly progressing and we must recognize which toys fit which stage of growth.

Although kids develop at different stages, it’s essential to help them stimulate their mind as they continue to grow. To help you find the perfect gift for a child, Gifts.com put together a comprehensive list of toys and activities for babies and kids up to nine years old. In order to provide children with the proper gift, it’s essential to learn the developmental stages.

From birth to five months old, babies are beginning to grasp objects and show emotion. Everything is new to them, so soft toys and textures are ideal.  

By six to eleven months, babies can now use their fingers and hands at the same time. They enjoy banging things together and throwing objects, and also need to be introduced to constructive play.

A one-year-old can stand by themselves and might be able to eat on their own. They are at the point where they want to investigate everything, and imitate sounds you create. Any toys that can stimulate motor skills and memorization skills are great for this age, such as non-toxic markers or shape sorters. 

Two-year-olds grow quickly! They want to run away, play hide and seek and enjoy interacting with others. Focus on toys that require physical strength for your two-year-old, to give them both language and social skills.

When it comes to a three to six year old, they have more strength and coordination skills. Since they have control over movements, get toys that strengthen muscles and stimulate their brains.

By seven to eight years old, your child knows the concept of cause and effect, and can write full sentences. Since they are willing to learn, introduce science toys and educational board games for this age range.

For nine years and older kids, they are becoming more independent than ever, and are beginning to face academic hurdles. Encourage your child to read, as it stimulates imagination, communication skills and vocabulary.

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dad from day one: Why Technically Baby Jack is a Year Old Today

Week 13. (Three months.)

3 months out of the womb + 9 months in the womb = 12 months

I had always heard that in certain Asian countries, you are considered a year old as soon as you are born.  Then I went to South Korea in 2004 to work with some high school boys at a “Learn Conversational English” camp.  Sure enough, they all told me there were 17 years old, but when I compared their birthdays to the age they claimed to be, I realized that South Koreans do indeed hold the belief that you born a year old.  The boys were only 16 years old; the way we Americans see it.

But really, this makes much more sense to me than being “zero” the day you are born.  Sure, we spend 9 months in our mother’s womb, not a full 12 months, but 9 months is definitely closer to a year than to zero months. So in that case, I’m already in my thirties! Baby Jack is officially three months old today, though he has been alive a full year now.

At three months, Jack officially “talks”, turns his head when he hears my voice (he wasn’t always able to hear my deep voice), grabs onto my hand when I hold him, and as of last night, can officially turn over to his stomach completely on his own. He has to wear clothes for 6 month olds now.  And while I’m led to believe that he is indeed a big baby, I think he’s just starting out life with a bit of a growth spirt. His bulky forearms remind me of Popeye.

Jack in his "baked potato" outfit.

 

dad from day one: Baby Boys Make Me Think of Middle-aged Men [Home Video Enhanced]

Week 12.

Whenever I see a baby boy, I usually think of a man between the ages of 45 and 65 years old, because while taking a child psychology class in college at Liberty University, I remember seeing side-by-side photographs in my textbook which compared a baby boy and a middle-aged man. The example showed how as a man grows older, he begins to look more like he did as a baby. (Baby girls don’t look like middle-aged women, though.)

Something that has become pretty apparent this week is that Jack (my son) and Jack (my dad) have a special connection. Baby Jack gravitates his attention towards my dad if he is in the room.  Not only is he fascinated by hearing his voice, but he also will get the biggest smile anytime my dad looks his way. And as these YouTube clips below will show, a certain side of Jack’s behavior only opens up for my dad.  Their relationship is unmatched even to my own relationship with my son, therefore convincing me there really is something to this “baby boy/middle-aged man” deal. I think it’s really cool to see the dynamics between Baby Jack and his Pappy.



On a less sentimental note, Jack reminds me of things other than just a middle-aged man.  When my wife is holding him on her shoulder, he often reminds me of a Glow Worm.  And when when gets confused, he looks like Mac the alien from the mostly forgotten movie Mac and Me.  And when he’s passionate about eating, he makes this grunting sound that is so similar to Mr. Peepers from Saturday Night Live: “Bah-bah-bah-bah!”

Eventually, he will make me think more of a little boy.  For right now, what I am seeing in him are his attempts at being human: like his attempts to walk, his attempts to talk, and even his attempts to show affection.  Whatever he reminds me of at any certain point in the day, something I am aware of is how adorable he is. Whether he reminds me of  a pet, an alien, or a stuffed animal from the Eighties, I just know I can’t imagine life without him.



Things that Baby Jack reminds me of right now:
 

Middle-aged men, like the magnificent Phil Collins

Mac the alien

Mr. Peepers (sounds like while eating, but doesn't look like)

a Glow Worm (when Jack is sleepy)

 



dad from day one: Jack’s First Time to Church

Week 7.

Something I had always been acutely aware of is that when two people have a baby, there’s a good solid 6 weeks that go by where you stop seeing them in public.  But shortly after that, the couple begins to dare to make random public appearances.  Like last week, we attempted to take Jack with us to buy groceries. Really, there’s no need for me to paint the details of that story; if you can imagine it, that’s what happened.  Therefore, today I went alone to buy groceries.  It took just as long being that I’m a guy and we, the male species, don’t have instincts to tell us things like where to find vanilla extract or even at our own house where the cutting boards go in the kitchen.

But with me still not having a job yet and with the cold winter weather, the three of us have spent a lot of time indoors.  Now I know what it’s like to be a 29 year-old retired millionaire who gets to stay at home all day in his pajamas and eat cereal for lunch.  Minus the million dollars and plus the need to actually make a living.  So after a month of constantly looking online for jobs and applying, and taking care of Jack, and watching random documentaries instantly on Netflix through the Wii, we decided we were brave enough to take Jack to church for the first time; out of the womb.

Of course, despite giving ourselves plenty of time to get there early, Jack decided he wanted one last snack of milk right as we were heading out the door.  Then we had to change his diaper.  So we arrived 10 minutes late and the only place left to sit was up in the balcony.  This turned out to be a pretty good location though; since we were right next to the door for the moment he would inevitably start crying.  He lasted 35 minutes before we had to dart for the door with him.  We were impressed.

dad from day one: Diaper Duty and Sleeping Arrangements

Week 3.

Men aren’t supposed to like changing diapers.  And I suppose no one truly likes changing diapers, but something I have learned in these 3 and a half weeks so far is that it’s really not that bad right now.  He’s still in the “yellow, seedy poop” stage.  So I can’t honestly say that the smell is difficult to deal with.  The hardest part about changing his diapers is taking off his clothes and putting them back on.

The way I look at it, despite all that my wife does for not only our son but for us as well, if there’s one thing I can do efficiently, it’s to change his diapers.  Granted, as much as my parents and sister and her husband have helped out as well, it’s not like I’m changing the majority of his diapers anyway.  But if nothing else, I have learned that a dirty diaper is not something I fear or have any valid reason to avoid.  Though I do prefer it when he’s wearing a onesie: easy access.

In theory, Jack would spend the majority of his sleeping hours in his nice crib.  But in reality, during the day he sleeps wherever he ends up falling asleep.  Sometimes it’s his sock monkey bed, sometimes it’s the papason chair, and sometimes it’s somebody’s arms.  It’s funny how it’s an infant’s full time job to sleep.  When he wakes up, Jack typically goes through a 15 minute stretching ordeal.  I love how he is essentially exhausted from sleeping all the time.

I have always secretly wanted a fur coat- the chic yet manly kind like Rocky Balboa had.  That appears to be in the genes as Jack loves to be wrapped up in the finest, softest materials.  Jack lives such a glorious, pampered life.  He has an appreciation for the finer things in life.  But he also isn’t above loudly passing gas when people hold him.  That’s good- it shows he’s culturally balanced.

dad from day one: Baby Boot Camp

Week 1.

Regarding immediate life in the home front and finding a method to the madness, my wife and I are starting to get things figured out.  When Jack needs a diaper change, I put in his pacifier, “shush” him, and place my right hand over his chest while my wife handles the dirty business, delicately cleaning around his healing circumcised penis and belly button (similar to playing the Operation board game by Milton Bradley).  Regarding sleep schedules, my wife has come up with this gracious plan: On weeknights, I sleep in the guest bedroom on a futon bed from midnight until 6 AM for 6 hours of uninterrupted sleep, then I get ready to leave for work.  When I arrive home 12 hours later, I do whatever my wife needs me to, including but not limited to rocking him, holding him, and helping with the feedings.  But during the weekends, I pretty much just take naps when I can.

Yes, this is my new normal.  I look at the situation for my wife and I as “baby boot camp”.  We are being broken down to the point now where we see two hour naps as a valuable prize, as sleep becomes the new currency in life.  Though so many people have told us the “sleep when the baby sleeps” rule, he inconveniently sleeps between 4:30 and 8:00 PM, a time slot where I am always widest awake and eating dinner.  Hopefully keeping him awake during this time will push back his schedule enough to ensure better sleep time for his parents.

I figure if we can make it through the difficulties of breastfeeding and learning to deal with sleep deprivation, we can officially handle all else that will come our way in raising him.  So I remind myself that every good and present father has been through this too.  I look at parenting as a necessary rite of passage for myself as a human being.  It’s something I was meant to do in order to fully serve my purpose here on Earth; never really knowing all the positive chain-reacting side-effects that my influence on him will cause in the world.  Deep.


dad from day one: The Benefits of Responsibility and the Inevitability of Learning from Mistakes

Thirty-three weeks.

Something I have learned in my adult life so far is that when I am offered more responsibility, it’s almost always the best decision to take it.  Sure, there is such a thing as wearing yourself too thin by agreeing to too many things, even (and especially) with church activities, but that’s a whole different story.  When the company I work for asks me on short notice to leave for a trade show which begins two days after returning from my vacation, or I realize I can save an errand and $20 by activating our new cell phones myself instead of going down to Verizon Wireless, I do it.  Responsibility is an important key in maturity.  And maturity is a key to quality of life.

Hence, parenthood.  Responsibility is almost always attached to loss of time, space, and freedom.  But there are certain life experiences that can never be known and certain character elements that can never be built until responsibility is tackled head on.  Of course, when any person adopts a new important role in their  life, it means they will consistently make mistakes while doing it (since new life experiences don’t usually come with a detailed user’s guide).  And those mistakes become the actual footnotes for every future reference.

I am prepared to lose my sense of freedom, my time, my space, and especially my sleep.  I am prepared to make mistakes constantly, yet learn from them.  I am prepared to become more responsible than I’ve ever been before.  Most importantly, I am prepared to be more blessed than I’ve ever been before, as well.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com