Rattles - Antique Rattles and Traditional Baby Rattles
Why We Choose Rattles for Babies
Perhaps the one toy item most consistently associated with babies is a baby rattle. We see baby rattles in pictures promoting decorations for showers, and they appear on cards, picture frames, and almost anything associated with babies. Maybe it's because they are the very first thing that really seems to keep baby occupied for a nanosecond. As babies get older, they are better able to hold on to other toys and be entertained with different things. However, as a tiny infant, the grab reflex allows for grabbing and holding, albeit, not for too long at a time. The noise a rattle makes seems to excite and stimulate an infant - so it is what we give them first.
Traditionally, baby rattles, particularly silver baby rattles, are given as a gift at a christening or naming ceremony. Usually, the baby's name and date of birth are engraved on the silver rattle and it becomes a keepsake, often passed down through generations. Silver is bright and attractive - and valuable. So, if your baby is given a silver baby rattle, you'll want to be sure it is kept in a safe place after using it. You might want to consider the weight of the rattle when giving it to the baby. If it is heavy, a bang on the head could be the result of hands flailing around wildly with a heavy piece of silver in one of them - not to mention someone being hit when caught in the line of fire of a flying rattle.
Antique baby rattles make great keepsake gifts. They are not meant to be used, rather to be kept and eventually become an heirloom. There were many styles of baby rattles in the 19th and early 20th Centuries - from very simple rings with jingling charms to some of the shapes we see to this day. These rattles are not inexpensive toys. You can expect to pay considerably more than you would for a modern rattle, and depending upon the antiquity of the rattle, it can cost as much as several hundred dollars. With the price of silver steadily rising these days, an antique baby rattle could be a good investment-type gift for a new arrival.
Cha, Cha Baby, Shake That Rattle
Plastic baby rattles are always popular. However, given the caution with phalate and BPA in teethers and baby toys, it is most advisable that the rattle be made of non-toxic materials. Babies put everything in their mouths as soon as they can figure out how to get their hands to cooperate. If the toy is made of a toxic material, then baby's health is in jeopardy. As the baby gets a bit older, light weight maracas made of non-toxic material are a welcome toy. They are a rattle, but they are also an instrument and can be a source of great entertainment and learning for a baby. Of course, there are also the cartoon character baby rattles that seem to delight babies endlessly. The bright colors and funny faces coupled with the rattling sounds are a constant source of entertainment for a baby.
Wooden, Cloth, and Wrist Rattles
Some of the great designs for rattles that are safe and baby friendly come to us from Haba, the German toy company, whose fun designs are user-friendly and hold baby's attention. Flapsi, from Haba, is a fun toy made of wooden disks that tap together, making a rattling sound when the baby shakes the toy. BlaBla, makers of toys for babies, has released a range of soft rattles that are hand-knitted by Peruvian artists. They are brightly colored pieces of fruit that fit neatly into baby's hands and make a delightful sound.
Baby wrist rattles have to be one of the best inventions yet. A wrist band or a sock that fits on baby's foot, this type of rattle has a funny animal or bug on it that rattles when baby flaps his hands or feet. No more rattles flying across the room, out of the bouncy chair or off the changing table. Baby can make plenty of sounds with the rattle without losing it.
There are wonderful wooden rattles that are hand crafted of maple and other woods that are polished and do not have stains or paints to color them. Designed for little hands, these rattles are non-toxic and often end up doubling as a teether as well as a rattle.