In short, no. In our experience, the most basic toys (i.e. blocks, shape sorters, books) are all far better for teaching your little one fine motor skills, increasing their attention span, improving their ability to problem solve and even to just learn the basic concept of cause and effect. The "expensive" toys or toys that require batteries often are over-powering, too loud or too visually stimulating for little ones. In addition, if that toy activates without being touched, it can interfere with your child's ability to understand the concept of cause and effect.
One more note is to be mindful of the materials used in the toys you give your child. If your child mouths toys, you may want to avoid plastic toys altogether. We find wooden toys to be the best lasting and safest option for infants and toddlers.
We feel badly about this subject because most stores and products emphasize learning these things--BUT--it's far more important for your toddler to learn how to communicate how to request "water" or "food" or request "help" than it is for them to label or understand the abstract concepts of "green" or "circle". In addition, your child will have YEARS to focus on academic subjects, being a toddler is all about learning through play skills. If you still want to teach colors and counting, that's fine, but consider teaching those concepts while playing in the kitchen instead of using flashcards/puzzles/books, etc that solely focus on academics.
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood,” Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers.
Consider focusing on play to teach your child various concepts and ideas. If a concept is important for you to teach to your child, host a pretend tea party with your tot and teach the concept to the teddy bear too. Remember, silliness is fun for a toddler, and we all learn best when we're having fun.
Another tidbit--many books can achieve the same goal as flashcards, but, with books, you sit with your child and enjoy them together.
We understand that you may not enjoy your voice, but, your toddler certainly does! Singing songs with them, rather than listening to them on the radio or a device enhances your connection to your child. When you sing the same song, it allows for your child to predict what come next, and you can eventually pause to see if your toddler will fill in the missing word. This should be fun!
Another element to consider is singing songs with finger play. Adding the same gestures to the same songs again and again help your child develop predictive skills and better allow your child to join in on the song when they're ready.
Your child learns best from watching you. Knowing this, use household items to pretend you're doing a chore with your toddler. Narrate what you're doing and what your child is doing as you play. Your child is listening to you!
Absolutely not! Research actually maintains the opposite, the sooner a child understands that they can communicate to get their needs and wants met, they'll do whatever possible to continue that development. Once learned, speech is the most effective means of communication, it's why we all speak instead of using another means to communicate most often.
Simply put, none of us like feeling pressured, amiright? Imagine learning a new language and your teacher is constantly asking you to name things or say things...how would you feel? Does this sound familiar? LOL If so, it's not necessarily easy to change, but it's possible. Model, model, model the words and sounds you want your child to say, and typically, your child will start to imitate you *without* you needing to ask. Try making sounds and words sounds in a silly way. We all like to laugh and have fun, don't we? The more silly and funny you can be with your tot, the better the interaction will likely be. Don't believe me? Try it out!