How to pick toys for a deaf baby
Unfortunately, deaf babies and children can often experience early language deprivation or limited exposure to language, which can have the unintended side effect of delayed cognitive and communicative development, and ultimately difficulties in the classroom and beyond. It may be challenging for a deaf infant to become properly integrated and this can adversely affect the learning process. However, early and appropriate intervention has the potential to compensate for or greatly minimize these effects. With proper attention, deaf children have the opportunity to thrive in the same way that a child with hearing does.
Best toys for deaf babies
Deaf children still have the potential to acquire high levels of language organization with early exposure to a visual language, whether signed or otherwise, and compensatory stimulation of other available senses. One thing that many parents first realize when raising a deaf child is that focus on deliberately teaching the child is important; it may take additional patience and time to explain things and fill in the missing information that arises from the lack of incidental learning that hearing children may garner passively.
To help minimize the disadvantages that a deaf child potentially faces, it is crucial to provide this stimulation in whatever ways possible: tactile, visual, vestibular, etc. Selecting toys that are age and developmentally appropriate is one way of giving them an early start to success.
Complicit with this, toys available to a deaf infant should have the ability to simulate the infant via other sensory channels with images, visuals, vibrations or lights, (without overstimulating the child). It is equally important to stimulate other senses besides vision; toys that encourage reaching, sequencing, grasping and releasing are particularly useful. As with any child, varied experiences and sensory input is crucial to learning about the physical environment. For this, we love Tobbles and SpinAgain.
Language development toys
Language deprivation, which can occur when a child does not have the opportunity to receive necessary language input sufficient to develop language and cognitive capabilities, is of particular concern in deaf infants. However, early intervention in exposure to visual language has the ability to vastly improve early visual processing and vocabulary development. Recent research also indicates visual language skills in particular not only improve focus, gaze and attention, but also the development of spoken language processing skills. Early development of ASL is also highly correlated with reading and academic achievement.
Books for deaf children
Age appropriate children’s books that permit a deaf child to alternately observe pictures and language input during the reading sets have been shown to foster early acquisition of literacy skills. Furthermore, infant books that are accompanied by manual sound features or musical buttons can be a great way to bolster development of language and interpretation skills in hearing impaired infants. On the other hand, completely deaf children may benefit from board books with basic signs, or using stuffed animals to reenact the plot. Be sure to situate the child such that he or she is able to observe the reader’s face as well as the pictures, permitting them to follow the story while you start with simple sign language as you read. Encourage the child to turn the pages, touch the pictures, or lift the flaps.
Verbal toys and communicative play
Many experts recommend utilizing toy telephones or microphones to encourage speech and language development in the deaf infant, as well as promote social and communicative skills. This type of make-believe play has a powerful effect in invigorating verbal maturation. Other toys that encourage social play, such as board games, are useful as well.
Auditory toys for hearing impaired babies
If the baby is hearing impaired you plan to buy auditory toys, it is crucial that they have volume control or the option to utilize headphones to better cater to the child’s individual needs. Remember, in some rare cases these toys and their sounds have the potential to interfere with hearing aid, so it is important to consult with your hearing aid specialist. Our top pick is Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes.
Best toys for deaf babies
Also never forget that holding, cuddling, rocking, carrying, touching, and communicating with a deaf infant or child is equally as important as any other toy or resource!