With the holidays quickly approaching, families are always asking for recommendations for toys for their small children. Here are a few ideas for age-appropriate toys for your baby or toddler!
Babies (0 to 12 months)
YOU! Your baby from 0-3 months is most interested in his or her parent or caregiver. Encourage eye contact, sing songs, talk to, play peekaboo, and make silly faces at and with your baby!
Mobiles: As their vision is starting to become more clear, toys like mobiles with simple pictures or solid colors will motivate them to reach for the objects above.
Rattles: Our littlest humans are interested in sensory play so what better than something they can bang, shake, and mouth? Rattles provide visual, tactile, oral, and auditory stimulation.
Unbreakable Mirror: Children love to look at themselves and playing in the mirror teaches them self-awareness. Look at each other in the mirror, make faces, put stickers on your face, put toys on your head, or play peekaboo.
Young Toddlers (12 to 24 months)
Simple Books: Make sure the books have simple, real pictures. This will help young toddlers recognize objects in the world around them.
Push and Pull toys: These are great for gross motor activities. These toys encourage movement and great for early walkers.
Hammer and Ball or Peg toys: These are great cause and effect toys to help your child problem solve. Hammer and ball toys also allow them to use tools, which we know these little toddlers love!
Blocks, Cups, Stacking Rings: Stackable toys help children learn spatial relationships, size concepts, and problem-solving skills. And this allows them to do engage in one of their favorite activities – destruction!
Older Toddlers (24 to 36 months)
Matching/Sorting toys: Puzzles are a great way to teach matching and sorting! Older toddlers enjoy see organization in the world and help encourage the earliest of preschool readiness skills.
Pretend/Imaginative Play toys: How often do you see your older toddler use the remote control as a “phone”? Provide your child realistic objects or toys so that they can imitate your actions and daily life. Baby dolls, kitchen utensils/play food, toy phones, cars, trains, dress up clothes, child size broom or vacuum – these all encourage pretend or imaginative play. This type of play to helps your child learn about social-emotional relationships and shows you their understanding of the world.
Art Supplies: Large crayons, markers, clay, paint, glue sticks, child-safe scissors, and construction paper are great utensils to introduce art and explore color! Be sure all of your supplies are non-toxic and to engage in these activities while wearing clothing you don’t mind getting messy – or ruined!
Simple Board or Memory Games: As children get closer to three, these types of games are great ways to work on turn taking and exercise memory and object permanence skills. It will also help your child improve their concentration.
Kimberly Shlaes, MAT, DT
Director of Developmental Therapy Services