Using Passive Toys As Learning Resources For Babies And Toddlers

Playgroup NSW

Thu 03-Nov-16

Categories: Learning through Play

Passive toys are instruments or learning. The best toys for babies and toddlers are simple. There are several things to look for when buying a toy. 

Choosing toys that are suitable for your baby or toddler’s age is a great first step in encouraging their development through play.

The great part is that the best toys are not necessarily the most expensive ones. Play is a developmental activity for babies and toddlers.
As a general rule, the best toys are simple and don’t necessarily do anything.

Let’s take a look at some other criteria you can look for when choosing a toy for your child.

Active vs passive toys

There are two main groups of toys: active and passive. Passive toys have one thing in common: they will only respond to the child’s manipulation. With passive toys, it is the child activates them. Active toys, on the other hand, encourage the child to be passive and to rely on the toy to entertain them.

Whilst both types can provide hours of entertainment, the wonderful thing about passive toys spark curiosity, ignite the imagination, encourage exploration and can be used in a myriad of different ways. Given that babies and toddlers are amazing learners and explorers of their world, providing them with materials that provide these kinds of experiences is excellent for their development.

Safety first

The most important consideration when choosing a toy is safety. Any toy your toddler has access to has to be, above all, safe for them to play with.

When looking for toys for babies and toddlers, here are some of the things to consider in terms of safety:

  • Must be too big to be swallowed;
  • Must not have removable parts;
  • Check for sharp edges, breakability and anything that might cause suffocation;
  • While there are lovely toys that are perfect for individual play, they can be terrible for group play (for example: toys made of heavy wood), so decide beforehand how you want your child to use the toys.
  • Take into consideration your child’s age: toys appropriate for toddlers can be unsafe for a baby.

Play objects

Instead of thinking about them as toys, think about them as play objects. Your child is playing when he is manipulating an object, therefore any object that your child chooses to manipulate and play with can become a play object.

The secret to choosing engaging play objects is: they need to be as simple as possible. These are also known as “passive toys” because they don’t do anything.

But even if they do not move, sing, clap, or dance, they help your baby develop their creativity, curiosity, motor and problem solving skills.

With passive toys, your baby or toddler becomes an active learner.

Passive toys

The best play objects for babies are those which allow them to be as active and competent as possible at different stages of their development. So how can you identify the best passive ply objects?

You might be surprised to learn that probably already have all these play objects at home.

Let’s take a look at some criteria when it comes to looking for passive toys:

  • Look for simple, sturdy and cleanable items that vary in shape, size and weight. You can find items like these easily in your kitchen; things like: cups, bowls, colanders, dishpans, baskets, and camping mess kits.

Tip: Look for objects the baby can place into the containers [and out again!) such as pegs, hair rollers, pieces of fabric and napkin rings. Your child will look, touch, grasp and manipulate these items endlessly, never repeating the same experience.

  • Balls: big, small, plastic whiffle-type with holes, beach balls, rubber balls. They all work as long as they are big enough not to be swallowed.
  • Inflatable water toys are also great as they can be blown up to different degrees of firmness and they can be used at home or at the beach.
  • Plastic bottles of all sizes, but the bigger the better. After you’ve cleaned them thoroughly, they can be fun for babies to manipulate and play with. You may also choose to add something inside the bottle, such as some rice or coloured sand and glue the lid firmly back on or tape with sturdy tape.
  • Plastic chains, as colourful as possible.
  • Large sized pop beads can also be fascinating for babies and toddlers. Just make sure they are not long enough to tangle around the child’s limbs.
  • Boxes of all types are excellent play objects. They can become towers, tunnels, walls, vehicles.


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