Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Storytime Toys for Babies & Infants

So you are in charge of an infant/baby storytime? Yay! It will hopefully become the favorite part of your day. Whether you have been doing these storytimes for 20 years or you just started last week, I want to encourage you to add playtime at the end of your storytime.

Babies learn by playing! When you include playtime during a storytime, it is a great opportunity to show parents some quality toys they can make or purchase. This is also a good time to simply remind parents to play with their child each day. Being a new mom/dad can be overwhelming and it's important for them to know why playing is so vital to little ones.

The most important thing to remember is to use what you have. Old puppets just laying around? Give them a quick wash and throw them in the circle. A ton of boxes that you've been saving and have no idea why? Make some shape sorters and drums with them!

If you are lucky enough to have some budget money set aside for storytime materials, here are some of my top baby toys I would suggest. I've linked where I purchased them in the captions. Disclaimer- I am receiving no money/reward/incentive to market these toys. I simply want to make your toy buying experience an easy one!

These blocks are great because they aren't
 just your traditional square shape.
Each block is a different letter and has
 a corresponding unique animal. 

Really soft fabric covered blocks-
perfect for infants. 

The first thing I knew I wanted to purchase was blocks. I decided to go with two sets. One for my babies (10-23 months) and one for my infants (0-10 months).

These are very sturdy and get thrown a ton.
They haven't begun to show any wear yet!
Next, on someones recommendation (I think the Show Me Librarian) I purchased these fun tubes that make a ton of noise. This is great for helping them work on fine motor skills and also beginning to understand gravity! Also, I know the feathers look like a total cop-out. I thought my kids wouldn't look twice at it since it didn't make noise. Nope. They are all equally loved and played with.

Rolling Shape Sorter
This shape sorter is by far the crowd favorite in storytime. Babies are constantly fighting over it and there are usually tears. I now put out two every storytime, but there are still groups fighting to use it. However, it is a great way to model sharing and patience to little ones. I am usually the moderator and hand out a shape to each child to figure out. It works for us, plus I'm showing the parents that just because the baby is angry/upset doesn't mean you need to be. They are fighting over the item because they don't know what sharing is. Someone has to show them how first– hopefully the parent.

These puppets are just ones that I've found in our storage
area. I have no idea where they were purchased. 
I also include an assortment of puppets for both my infants and toddlers. I include bigger sturdier ones for my babies, but I typically stick to small hand puppets for the infants. Some kids are terrified of puppets and that's ok! It's good for them to experience it in a safe setting where you can always take it away if it is too intense.

Stacking Cups on left.
Soft Rainbow Stacker on right. 
Stacking Rings on left.
Stacking Cups on right.

I include stacking rings and cups in both infant and baby storytime. My infant toys are on the left and baby toys are on the right. I did take away the wooden stand from the stacking ring. It made me way too nervous with my babies who were just learning how to walk. They are now more teething rings than anything, but the babies still love to grab them. Also, the stacking cups for my babies are a huge hit. They love to pretend to drink out of them and sometimes we pretend to all have tea. The parents usually like to pretend there is a more adult beverage in them though...

Sets from- Lakeshore
Constructive Playthings

I also include a variety of tactile balls in both infant and baby storytime. Just a word of warning– the ones on the left pick up everything from the floor. Including hair, lint, fabric, bubble residue, etc. They are also very hard to clean. I can't find where I purchased them from, so no link on those. You should take a pass on them anyways.

Picnic Basket &
Grocery Store Bag
I also have these fun kits that I use with my infants and babies. It is a great way to encourage parents to talk with their little ones. Some parents find it awkward and hard to talk to their babies,  so giving them concrete things to talk about, like "What would we bring on a picnic?" is a great way to help them overcome this fear.

Overall, I've been very happy with the toys I've purchased. I mix up the variety of toys I put out each storytime session. This way my parents and babies who come to 3-4 sessions in a year won't be seeing the same toys each time. I also throw out a ton of books at storytime before I put out any toys.

Seriously, please play with your babies at storytime.

What are some of your favorite storytime toys? Is there any that you would absolutely not recommend?


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