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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

My 4-month-old has all these toys my parents and other relatives have given her but she doesn’t seem interested in playing with them. When will she be?

Q: My 4-month-old has all these toys my parents and other relatives have given her but she doesn’t seem interested in playing with them. When will she be?

A: Though children’s interests and skills vary, your daughter should have some curiosity about toys now, as long as they’re age-appropriate. Most 4-month-olds are able to reach out and explore toys with their hands, and are beginning to grasp and shake or bang them. The best toys at this age are those that your daughter can easily reach and hold like rattles with handles, soft rubber rings, and toys that she can squeeze, touch, and kick. Since her toys are probably going to be sucked and gummed a lot (that's one of the main ways babies play at this age), it’s essential that all of these objects are safe for her to put in her mouth.

Babies this age aren’t yet able to operate toys in complicated ways, such as pressing a button on a pop-up toy. If these are the kinds of “big kid” toys that your daughter has been given, her lack of interest is understandable. She can’t easily grasp and chew on them, which is what she’s interested in right now.  Instead, offer your baby a range of toys that are appropriate for her age and see how she responds. Just like most parenting challenges, choosing toys is all about trial and error.  Some things you get will be a hit, while others will gather dust.  (Look into starting a toy-sharing group with other moms of similarly-aged babies to make the most of your purchases.)  You’ll see your daughter’s fascination with toys and other objects grow in the coming months as her hand and vision skills continue to develop.

What’s important is that your child is showing interest in objects and people. She should be exploring the world around her by looking, by touching, and by using her mouth.  She should also be using her body to communicate, such as kicking her arms and legs in delight and vocalizing back and forth with you. If you are seeing this kind of behavior and communication, then she is doing just fine.

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