Rattles are among baby's first toys and they are very important to your little one's physical and intellectual development. Babies have been given rattles since the beginning of time. These early rattles were likely made from dried gourds or similar items, and some were actually carved from wood. Today's rattles are much safer for baby, and are available in a wide array of colors and sizes. There are rattles that click softly, those that rattle loudly, and many in between. There are rattles that chime, rattles that play music, and rattles that clatter. Each one holds a secret for baby to unlock, and little ones will adore playing with them.
Choose a safe rattle for your baby. Check its construction to be sure that it is sturdy. You don't want any risk of the rattle breaking or coming apart, because those small broken bits could be choking hazards. Be sure that the decorations are securely fastened, and that the colors are put on with safe dyes or paints. Some rattles are set up as items on a ring: be sure that the ring will stay closed while your baby is too small to have such little pieces. Many of these are designed to be taken apart by toddlers and preschoolers, so be sure that the clasp mechanism will stay closed when you need it to. Cloth rattles need to be free from hanging strings or other entanglement hazards. There are a number of rattles on the market that are manufactured more for looks than with baby's safety in mind. Watch out for rattles with thin or weak handles, and those with loud, clattery sounds. Some rattles are designed with too much weight in the head, and so would be very difficult for a young infant to use without clonking itself. That would make for a very poor rattle experience!
Babies will enjoy rattles from the time when they first learn to focus their attention on things outside of themselves, so those first rattles need to be chosen for the very youngest of infants. Babies much prefer bright, primary colors, so rattles for your young infant should be brightly-colored. Little ones can handle cloth rattles at a very early age, and these are quite nice. They often are in the form of a small and limp stuffed creature, and many babies develop quite a fondness for them. Be careful that the rattles that you give to young infants are not to loud and raucous! Loud noises can frighten and upset many little ones.
Older little ones will enjoy rattles that have a bit of variety. Try to offer a collection that make different sounds. Greater coordination and stronger muscles mean that older babies can manage larger and heavier rattles. Babies who can sit up and stand are ready for the rattles that would have been hazardous because of their weight earlier in life. As your younster grows, shift gears from rattles to rhythm instruments to keep this sort of play going.
Rattles build intellectual muscle as well as improve coordination and muscle control. Very young infants will be interested in seeing and hearing adults shake rattles. It will help them learn to localize sounds, develop their understanding of cause and effect, and build social interaction skills as they respond to the world around them. Older babies will learn about control over their environment as they shake and experiment with rattles. Rhythm, sequencing, and intention are all important aspects of your developing child's abilities.
There are good reasons why rattles have been favored baby toys for generations. They can enhance your child's development in many ways, and babies find them to be just plain fun. You can occupy your child in constructive ways over and over again with a good collection of rattles.