We at NerdyWithChildren.com have devoted ourselves to finding you the coolest items in nerd-dom for kids. Although we usually feature items individually, we know sometimes it is useful to see a cross section of cool stuff all together. Well, we can do that too.
So what we have here is a quick look at 10 great nerdy baby toys. It can be tricky finding things a baby can geek out on sans-choking, but below are some toys that will safely provide your child with creative play time, either encouraging thinking skills or exposing them to the geeky aesthetic.
As well all know, an abacus is basically a calculator that you manipulate by hand. Babies love to play with them because they enjoy the feeling of the beads spinning in their fingers, and they like the sound, movement, and color. Many abacuses are available for sale at Amazon, and the popular kids’ brand Melissa and Doug has a lovely colorful one that is totally baby-safe. See it here
Your baby is fascinated by anything that you are fascinated by, which means that your baby wants, more than anything, to get ahold of your iPhone and put it in his mouth. Electronic devices don’t fare well in the moist environment of a baby’s maw, so it is best to get your baby a pseudo-iPhone.
The 3princesses store on Etsy.com offers a beautiful, hand-carved, wooden iPhone teether. It looks just like an iPhone, and the little icons representing apps are the familiar shapes of plants and animals that babies so love. See it here
Wooden Rocket Rattle
Every baby loves a rattle. It was a little plastic pink toroid rattle that made my baby laugh for the first time. Banner Toys offers a wooden, rocket-shaped rattle containing three beads that make a satisfying thunk when shaken together. Baby will like this rattle not just for the sound, but because he can actually handle the beads, and of course mouth them. See it here
Turtle Musical Toy
Orchestral music is complex and beautiful, and babies enjoy listening to it. This turtle toy by Baby Genius allows babies to not only listen to music, but to see it and orchestrate it. The turtle has five buttons representing different musical instruments. If you press a button, it starts playing a song and lights up every time it hits a note. As subsequent buttons are pressed, more instruments are added and more lights flash. There is also a big red button on top that makes all the instruments play at once. With this toy, kids can take music apart, listening to a song’s different instruments. Kids can also associate lights with sound, and learn through two modalities about harmony and music. See it here
If you are brave, or your child is gentle, then perhaps you let her play with your iPhone. There are plenty of apps for babies, but the biggest struggle is to get your kid to play with the iPhone without mouthing it or dropping it. To solve this problem, Think Geek offers the Laugh and Learn Baby iPhone Case. It is basically a steering wheel into which you insert your iPhone. Baby can easily turn the phone to reorient pictures. Also, the case protects the phone when dropped or thrown. The case has two settings, one of which covers the home button so your kid cannot leave whatever app she is on, and can’t make phone calls or delete all your e-mails.
I would never have thought that a protective case for technology was terribly important until my daughter, by frantically clicking on my Kindle, bought an entire season of Adventure Time in HD. This case costs less than a season of cartoons, for the record. See it here
Legos are the quintessential educational toy for kids. They help develop all sorts of skills, from fine motor skills to spatial awareness to planning and creativity. The only problem with most Lego sets is that they have small parts, and aren’t safe for the under two set. However, Lego does have a set of products called DUPLO, which contain only large blocks and characters, and are thus safe for babies. My daughter has the zoo set so she can play with the animals, snap the blocks together, and even snap the animals to the blocks. Or she can just take the blocks out of the box, then put them back in the box, for twenty minutes on end. See it here
Periodic Table Blocks
When you see a list of baby milestones, one that occurs right around the twelve month mark is stacking blocks. The ability to stack shows a variety of mental and physical milestones have been met. That means you’ve got to have blocks for stacking. These periodic table blocks are the perfect size for baby hands, and instead of having animals or numbers, they have the elements as they appear on the periodic table. This way kids can get exposed to the fundamental language of chemistry while working on their grasping and releasing skills. See it here
Babies love to play with cards. They like to feel the deck in their hand, and they like pulling the cards off one by one, making a pile on the floor, then mixing the cards together. My daughter has so far destroyed two Uno sets and one starter box of Magic the Gathering cards. (Don’t worry, it was a complementary set.) These laminated flash cards are sturdier than playing cards, and their images and text represent important ideas in science, such as atoms and binary code. This is a great toy if you have an older kid and a baby. You can discuss with the older one what the concepts are while your little one practices picking the cards up and putting them down again. See it here
Perhaps the greatest kids’ show is Avatar: The Last Airbender. It has a a broad cast of characters, each with a compelling and unique personality. It has so many women characters, all of whom have strengths and flaws, and it has Appa. Appa is Ang’s flying bison, his best friend, and, in many ways, the unsung hero of the world of Avatar. If you only have your child watch one TV show, it should be this one. And then your child can curl up at night with her giant plush Appa, having learned important lessons about friendship, duty, sacrifice, talent, and persistence against evil. See it here
This last toy is actually for the parent. It is an Astromech that accepts commands, moves around, sings and dances, shoots a light beam, and plays a familiar message from Leia. It also has a clutch you can pull out so that it can hold a can.
You should get this for your kid to familiarize him with household robots. My daughter didn’t see a robot until she was almost two, and that was clearly too late. Our children are going to grow up in a world where robots are more prevalent, and talking to computers and robots will be a normal communication act. These are all excellent things you can tell your spouse to justify why you bought a $150 dollar robot. It’s for the kids. For their future. Really. See it here