Soft blocks has been around for decades now and almost all of us have played with these toys in our growing years.
These blocks seem to lay the foundation of several mental and physical growth aspects of a child without pressurizing the baby in any way. I think this is one of the main reasons why these toys were already popular before the advent of cars.
Like all other aspects of our lives, baby toys have also become more advanced. Below are a few evergreen ones we often use.
Today these blocks are safe, stimulate visual and auditory senses, encourage movement of the limbs and most importantly allow a child to free imagination and build with these blocks, whatever she likes.
There are several types of baby blocks in the market today and of these the ones I’ve liked and used for kids are listed below. I've given an account of what made me choose them over the others in the store.
I have sorted them out according to an age category, since I do believe that not all blocks will work for all age groups.
Stimulating the child with age appropriate blocks is important since otherwise the child will either get overwhelmed with the blocks or find them totally useless.
These are a set of four soft blocks and each block has a different color and
an alphabet and a number assigned to it. The size of these blocks is great for
tiny hands that are just learning to maneuver things.
There is a key shaped teether on one block, which is great for those itchy gums and does also help the child to learn to eat independently, since it teaches the movement of the hand going to the mouth.
While the different colors encourage visual stimulation and color recognition, the various textures are great for building on the sense of touch. The pee-ka-boo flap encourages the child’s curiosity and helps her to understand cause and affect relationships.
The aero plane and chaser beads are great entertainers for the child too. These squishy blocks are machine washable and easy to maintain apart from begin completely safe for the baby.
These are also a set of four blocks that are soft enough to not cause the baby
any harm and yet firm enough to be stacked without a problem.
The cute animal pictures are very attractive to kids and keeps them looking at the cube from all the sided. Of course the usual visual stimulation and encouraging sense of touch is covered by these blocks, but it is the sounds that these cubes make, which is a huge added advantage.
These sounds act as auditory stimulants and also help the child learn about sound recognition. Be it crinkle, jingle or squeak these cubes do it all. Learning about cause and effect and also names of the animals is another advantage of these soft blocks.
My daughter in law was mighty relieved that they were machine washable, since my older grandson would spit up a lot.
Once more, a set of four bocks and these take the stimulation of the child a
little further than the blocks discussed before. I had bought them for my
daughter’s, younger girl when she was about 6 months.
The tags of these blocks are their unique features. They allow the child to explore and build on her sense of touch by feeling these satin tags.
The various figures on all sides of the cube are extremely interesting and can hold a child’s attention for quite some time.
The sounds and color work towards visual and auditory stimulation, while easy staking helps the kid to better her hand eye co-ordination and cognitive skills.
As a child grows, her blocks need to grow with here. These blocks come in a
set of 16 and each one has an activity assigned to it.
The triangular black and white shaped ones introduce a new shape into the child’s world along with building on her visual senses by teasing it with various patterns.
The combination of satin, corduroy and cotton allows the baby to feel different textures and understand concepts like smooth, rough, and rugged. The pee-ka-boo flaps can make the kids squeal in sheer delight, apart from learning to use their hands in various directions like open and close the lid.
The blocks also make various sounds like rattling and crinkling, when they are squeezed, which is a great way to drive the cause and effect point home.
The most important aspect of these blocks would be encouraging the child to use her mind and imagination to create things using these blocks.
My grand daughter did not take much time to figure out that the triangular pieces worked well as thatched roof tops, while the cubes were perfect for the house structure below.
These are a set of three blocks and one can easily use them for children
younger than a year too. They provide all the stimulation other blocks would in
the visual and auditory arena.
Tactical stimulation is also offered via these blocks that are hand made from various fabrics to help the child develop her sense of touch.
However, what makes these blocks great for older kids is the fact that the child learns to understand the letters of the alphabets and their sounds. The block that has the letter A printed on it, has pictures of all things that start from the letter ‘a’ on remaining faces of that particular cube. So A says apple, alligator and so on.
Very aptly named, these soft blocks come in three different shapes along with a
box that has similar shapes cut out.
The idea of these blocks is that the child should be able to match the shape of the block to that of the box and slide- in the right block into the matching cut out. Not only do the shapes need to match, but the patterns on the block and the box side must also be the same.
Needless to say, this requires a combination of cognitive skills and physical abilities.
This is a step up from the other blocks that do not teach a child to combine two abilities, but simply stimulate a child’s senses in various ways.
The Soft Sorter comes with a green apple scent that is technically designed to encourage the child’s sense of smell, something that no other soft block can lay claim to. However, it is true that my daughter (whose first born the sorter was bought for) found this scent over powering rather than pleasing.
This set of
80 blocks is designed for kids who have gone way beyond rattles and musical
cubes that target the auditory and visual senses.
The aim now is to develop the mind; to let it imagine, visualize, explore and create.
The blocks are light and soft but very sturdy and children can build with them without fearing tumbling episodes. This is very important in building blocks, since if the blocks tumble too often they could frustrate the child thus leading to a negative emotion rather than a positive one.
Each of the blocks is of a different size, which makes it challenging for the child to put them together. Joining two blocks to make a match for another block of a bigger size, helps enhance the child’s mathematical skills.
Not all holes will fit all hole pieces, so the child has to apply her mind as to what goes where. Even a small difference in block arrangement will lead to the tower collapsing, so the kid, much like an architect, has to make sure everything is perfectly arranged.
Planning and foresight are both an integral part of playing with these blocks. I find my three year old grandson uses these blocks for a lot more than building.
I have seen him use the blocks for stenciling and even tracing and for several other similar activities. Keeping an open mind and thinking outside of the box is highly encouraged with these foam blocks.
I have not seen other great soft blocks in this age range since my oldest grandson turned 3 years. I therefore only detailed one block set in this age group.
These days I see a lot of jazz matazz toys in the market. Play stations, battery operated gizmos, musical toys for toddlers, rattles that have lights and music (though the noise of the rattling sound is not to be heard at all) and even the remote controlled ones.
However, in my mind nothing has really been able to replace soft blocks.
These soft blocks seem to be the corner stones of any child’s development. The stimulation they offer is unique and the safety they provide is wholesome. Indeed an unbeatable combination that ensures both parents and children are happy with the toy. For more educational toys other than soft blocks, go here