The Best Toys For 8-Month-Old Development
An eight-month-old baby is reaching many new developmental milestones, and providing the right toys can encourage this further. Developmentally appropriate toys also keep children busy longer and maximize their enjoyment.
Eight-month-olds are working on or mastering many new skills. Often they have just gotten the hang of the pincer grasp, picking up small objects between the thumb and forefinger. They are usually somewhere between the early stages of crawling and beginning to stand while holding on to furniture.
This age group is discovering how cause and effect work via experimentation, like observing what happens when they push over a cup of milk. Additionally, they are learning about taste and texture, putting everything in their mouth for sensory input.
What Are Developmental Toys?
Developmental toys help babies practice and gain new skills. Babies are attracted to toys that are just at, or slightly above, their developmental level. They feel invigorated when they master a skill and they have a strong desire to repeat it. As mastery peaks, babies naturally lean towards the next challenge. To choose the best toys, you need to know where your baby is developmentally and where she is headed next.
At any age, the best toys for development are those which the child controls and not vice versa. In other words, simple toys without sound effects or flashing lights. Toys should also not put the child in a position he cannot get into by himself. For an eight-month-old, walkers and jumparoos are examples of toys that do not enhance development for this reason.
Musical toys are a wonderful way for an eight-month-old baby to experiment with cause and effect. The best musical toys are simply miniature versions of musical instruments. We are not referring to electronic toys that play songs at the push of a button. Babies are driven by a powerful desire to learn. Musical instruments will help direct an infant’s insatiable curiosity away from messy or dangerous things he finds in the house.
Examples of musical toys include:
Toys That Encourage Crawling
While crawling is an important motor skill, it is not achieved through physical power alone. There is also a major mental leap that babies must reach before they will crawl. In order to crawl, they must first desire to move from one place to another. The baby will need to conceive of the idea, and then attempt to execute it. This is why crawling is such an important developmental milestone.
To select toys that encourage crawling, look for objects that your baby will want to reach and then place them just out of reach. As she becomes a proficient crawler, use something that rolls along so she’ll need to continue to crawl after it. Tunnels can also increase the distance your baby will crawl, especially if your smiling face waits on the other side.
Examples of toys that promote crawling include:
Object Permanence Toys
Eight-month-olds have newly acquired the concept of object permanence. Before this skill develops, out of sight is literally out of mind. But after babies understand object permanence, they know that a ball is hidden under a scarf or a parent who has stepped out of the room still exists. This is a major mental development because they can now picture something in their head.
Any toy with a slot that a baby can put an object inside and no longer see will help them develop object permanence. Inserting the objects great for fine motor practice and hand-eye coordination. The fact that they can’t be seen until retrieved reinforces or introduces the idea that something still exists when we cannot see it.
There is a toy that is literally called an object permanence box. It consists of a box with either a slot for a coin or a hole for a ball. Once dropped in, the child can open a drawer or slide a lever to reveal and retrieve the hidden object.
Toys With a Face
Human beings tend to look towards faces and images of faces. This allows us to build relationships and make judgments in new situations. The study of faces intensifies during the second half of the baby’s first year. It is during this time that babies learn to discriminate between faces and read the subtlest expressions.
Toys with faces will naturally attract eight-month-olds. They will begin to laugh and babble as if talking to these toys.
Examples of toys with faces
At eight months old, new teeth are coming in. The rate at which teeth erupt varies, but usually, an eight-month-old has or is getting the central incisors. These are two front teeth on the top and bottom. Teething is uncomfortable, and it comes with lots of drooling and a need to chomp down on something rubbery.
The best kind of teething toys allow the baby a good grip. This helps him develop his dexterity. It’s also beneficial to choose teething toys in bright and varied colors, to aid in visual discrimination.
Examples of teethers
Sorting and Stacking Toys
More advanced eight-month-olds will enjoy and benefit from toys that stimulate visual discrimination and greater hand-eye coordination. Some eight-month-olds won’t be ready to handle the complex reasoning and fine motor control these toys require, and that’s ok. You can keep them out for open-ended play, or you can put them away for a while.
When it comes to sorting and stacking toys, shy away from heavily decorated versions. They may at first appear more educational, but that is not the reality. Babies are easily overstimulated and prefer simpler designs. Further, a baby’s development is best supported by toys that isolate just one concept. Too many bells and whistles take away from that.
Examples of sorting and stacking toys include:
Eight months old is a magical time full of discovery and huge mental and physical leaps. Babies’ growth is supported and encouraged by developmentally appropriate toys. Moreover, a baby with toys right at his level will be content and begin to develop his focusing skills and attention span.