Buyer Beware of Brainy Baby Toys

Not quite. For the record, the studies linking music to brain development focused on college students and three-year-olds — and even then, the results are debatable. Child development experts suggest you play music for your child because they enjoy it, but not for the purpose of building brain cells.

"There isn't a bit of scientific evidence that shows that playing Mozart to a baby at this age is going to change their brain cells in the least," says Oppenheim.

Second, some toys are overloaded with sounds and moving parts. And with so much active stimulation, it can spin into sensory overload, causing difficulty focusing.

Third, smart toys that feature a lot of technology are not always smart choices — not when children press buttons and get the same response over and over again.

"Those kinds of toys are hindering children's ability to be creative and to problem solve," says Amy Flynn, the director of Bank Street Family Center at the Bank Street College of Education in New York City. Here, the idea is that simple toys can best stoke a child's imagination.

"I worry that parents are getting the wrong message that these toys are going to make their children smart," says Flynn. "When in fact, it is the parent and the parent's ability to connect and provide lots of different kinds of experiences for their children."

Child development experts worry that interactive toys might substitute for the more important interaction between children and caring adults.

"Parents can be reassured that if they play with their baby, sing with their baby, talk with their baby, read to their baby and enjoy interacting with their baby one-on-one, the rest is going to happen," reiterates Oppenheim.

Childhood play is about learning and discovery. And batteries are not always required for children to put imagination to work.

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