As a parent, providing your baby with toys can be an exciting experience, but it’s essential to choose age-appropriate toys that will enhance your baby’s optimal development. Babies have different developmental needs and abilities at different stages of their growth, and selecting the right toys can help stimulate their senses, promote motor skills, and encourage cognitive development. With an overwhelming variety of toys available in the market, it can be challenging to know where to start. In this guide, we’ll provide tips on how to choose age-appropriate toys for your baby, taking into account their developmental stage and interests, to promote their growth and development.
Best Toys for Each Age Group
Newborn to 3 Months
From the moment they are born, children start developing their cognitive, physical, and social skills through play. Introducing age-appropriate toys to your little one can help support their growth and development. Knowing when to introduce toys and selecting the right type of toy can make all the difference in your child’s development.
During the first three months of a baby’s life, they are attracted to high-contrast toys that are easy to see and follow. Black and white patterns or brightly coloured toys with simple designs can help stimulate a baby’s vision and attention. Suitable toys for this age group include black and white mobiles, simple rattles, and soft toys.
For example, the Wimmer-Ferguson Infant Stim-Mobile by Manhattan Toy is an excellent high-contrast mobile with black and white patterns designed to help stimulate your baby’s vision. It also has a built-in music box that can soothe your little one to sleep. Similarly, the Lamaze Gardenbug Foot Finder and Wrist Rattle Set are simple, colourful rattles that wrap around your baby’s wrists or ankles, promoting sensory exploration and gross motor development.
Other options for high-contrast toys include black and white board books, such as “Hello, Baby!” by Roger Priddy or “Look, Look!” by Peter Linenthal, that feature simple, high-contrast designs that can help stimulate your baby’s visual development. Soft toys with high-contrast patterns or bold colours, such as the Manhattan Toy Wimmer-Ferguson Sights and Sounds Travel Toy or the Skip Hop Bandana Buddies Activity Toy, can also be great options for engaging your baby during playtime.
Overall, introducing high-contrast toys during the first three months of your baby’s life can help promote visual development and cognitive skills. By selecting age-appropriate toys that are both fun and stimulating, you can provide your little one with a solid foundation for learning and development.
4 to 6 Months
As babies grow and develop, they become more curious about their surroundings and start to explore and interact with the environment around them. At 4 to 6 months, babies are more mobile and tend to put things in their mouths. Introducing the right toys during this phase is essential to keep your baby engaged, safe, and happy.
Teething toys are a good option for this age group as they help soothe sore gums and stimulate the mouth. These toys are designed to provide a safe and comfortable chewing surface for baby teething. They can also help develop oral motor skills, such as biting, chewing, and sucking. Some examples of teething toys include Sophie the Giraffe by Vulli, a classic teething toy made of 100% natural rubber and food-grade paint. Another popular option is the Nuby Ice Gel Teether Keys, which can be refrigerated for relief and feature different textures to soothe sore gums.
Activity mats are also a great way to provide a safe, stimulating environment for babies to play in. These mats usually feature colorful designs, textures, and toys that can help develop gross motor skills, such as rolling over, crawling, and reaching. Some activity mats have toys that can be detached and used as individual playthings. For example, the Fisher-Price Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym features a soft, padded mat with a detachable toucan that plays music and lights up. The Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym is another popular option that features a variety of sensory toys, textures, and sounds to engage your baby.
Other options for toys in this age group include simple balls, soft toys, and activity cubes. The Bright Starts Clack and Slide Activity Ball is an excellent choice for babies learning to grasp and hold objects. The ball features different textures, a clacker ring, and a sliding ring to keep your baby engaged. Soft toys, such as the Jellycat Bashful Bunny or the GUND Baby Animated Flappy the Elephant, can provide comfort and entertainment for your baby during nap or playtime. Activity cubes, such as the Melissa & Doug Flip-to-Win Memory Game or the VTech Busy Learners Activity Cube, can help develop cognitive and fine motor skills, such as problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, and agility.
Overall, introducing teething toys and activity mats during the 4 to 6 months phase can help promote oral motor skills, gross motor skills, and cognitive development. By selecting age-appropriate toys that are fun and engaging, you can provide your little one with the right stimulation to support their growth and development.
7 to 9 Months
As babies grow and develop, they become more adept at manipulating objects and exploring their environment. At 7 to 9 months, babies develop hand-eye coordination and the ability to grasp and release objects. Introducing the right toys during this phase can help promote fine motor skills, spatial awareness, and problem-solving abilities.
Stacking and nesting toys are excellent options for this age group. These toys usually come in blocks, cups, or rings that can be stacked and unstacked in different configurations. Stacking toys help develop fine motor skills, such as grasping, releasing, and manipulating objects. They also help develop spatial awareness and problem-solving abilities as babies figure out how to stack the blocks or cups without them toppling over.
One example of a stacking toy is the Fisher-Price Stack & Roll Cups. This toy features 10 colourful cups stacked on each other or nested inside each other. The cups also have different cut-out shapes that can be matched with corresponding blocks, helping to develop problem-solving skills and hand-eye coordination. Another example is the HABA Symphony Croc. This toy is a wooden stacking and nesting toy that comes in the shape of a crocodile. It features 8 colourful pieces that can be stacked or nested. When played in the correct order, it creates different musical tones.
Shape sorters are also a great option for this age group. These toys help develop problem-solving, hand-eye coordination, and fine motor skills as babies learn to match different shapes to their corresponding holes. The Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks is an excellent example of a shape sorter. It features a set of 10 colourful blocks that can be sorted and stacked, and the container has different-shaped holes corresponding to each block. Another popular option is the Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube, a wooden cube with 12 different shapes to sort and stack.
Other options for toys in this age group include soft blocks, activity centres, and plush toys. Soft blocks, such as the B. Toys One Two Squeeze Blocks, can be easily grasped and manipulated by babies, and they come in different colours, numbers, and shapes. Activity centres, such as the Baby Einstein Activity Jumper, provide a safe, stimulating environment for babies to explore, and they feature a variety of toys, lights, and sounds. Push toys, such as the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Corn Popper, can help develop gross motor skills as babies learn to walk and push the toy simultaneously.
Overall, introducing stacking and nesting toys, shape sorters, and other age-appropriate toys during the 7 to 9 months phase can help promote fine motor skills, spatial awareness, problem-solving abilities, and gross motor skills. By selecting fun and engaging toys, you can provide your little one with the right kind of stimulation to support their growth and development.
10 to 12 Months
As babies reach 10 to 12 months, they become more mobile and confident in their movements. Push-and-pull toys encourage babies to explore their surroundings while developing gross motor skills and coordination. These toys allow babies to practice their walking and balancing skills while promoting independence and confidence.
A great example of a push toy is the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Corn Popper. This classic toy has been popular for decades. The Corn Popper features bright colours, fun popping sounds, and a sturdy handle for babies to push as they walk. Another great option is the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker, which doubles as a push toy and an activity centre with lights, music, and interactive features.
Pull toys, such as the PlanToys Dancing Alligator Pull Toy or the Hape Bunny Push and Pull Wooden Toy, provide similar benefits and are perfect for babies who are not yet walking independently. These toys have a string or a handle for babies to hold as they pull the toy behind them, encouraging crawling and walking while promoting coordination and balance.
12 to 18 Months
As babies develop into toddlers between 12 to 18 months, they become more interested in exploring their environment and figuring out how things work. Shape sorters and puzzles are excellent toys for this age group as they help develop cognitive skills, problem-solving abilities, and logical thinking.
A great example of a shape sorter is the Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube, which features 12 different shapes for toddlers to sort and match. The cube also doubles as a storage box, making it easy to clean up and store. Another excellent shape sorter is the Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby’s First Blocks, which includes ten colorful blocks that toddlers can sort and stack.
For puzzles, the Ravensburger, My First Puzzle the set is an excellent option for toddlers. It includes four puzzles with increasing difficulty levels, helping toddlers build their problem-solving and cognitive skills. Another great option is the Melissa & Doug Farm Animals Wooden Jigsaw Puzzle, which features chunky pieces for little hands to grasp and manipulate.
Shape sorters and puzzles are fantastic toys, for toddlers as they help develop important cognitive and fine motor skills while promoting problem-solving and logical thinking.
18 to 24 Months
As toddlers grow between 18 to 24 months, they develop a greater interest in imaginative play and building. Toys that encourage pretend play and building are fantastic options for this age group.
A play kitchen like the Step2 Fun with Friends Kitchen is an excellent choice for pretend play. This kitchen includes several features, including a stovetop, oven, refrigerator, and sink, allowing toddlers to engage in imaginative cooking play. Another great pretend play option is a doctor’s kit, such as the Battat Deluxe Doctor Kit, which includes several tools and accessories for toddlers to use while playing doctor.
Building blocks and construction toys are also fantastic options for toddlers at this age. The Mega Blocks Big Building Bag includes 80 building blocks that toddlers can use to create towers, bridges, and more. The Melissa & Doug Wooden Building Blocks Set is another excellent option, featuring 100 wooden blocks of various shapes and sizes for toddlers to use in their building projects.
Overall, toys that encourage playing and building promote creativity, imagination, and problem-solving skills in toddlers between 18 to 24 months.
In conclusion, providing age-appropriate toys is crucial for a child’s growth and development. From high-contrast toys for newborns to building blocks for toddlers, each age group benefits from toys that cater to their developmental needs. Parents and caregivers can help children develop cognitive, physical, and social skills by selecting the right toys while encouraging creativity and problem-solving. It’s important to consider a child’s age and developmental stage when selecting toys and to provide various options to promote well-rounded development.
When should I introduce toys to my baby?
Believe it or not, babies as young as two months old can already display an interest in toys. However, simple objects such as rattles or soft toys are the best options. As your baby grows and develops, you can gradually introduce more complex toys that stimulate their senses, encourage exploration, and promote learning.
Why is it important to choose appropriate toys for a child’s developmental age?
Developmentally appropriate toys help ensure your child stays engaged and interested in the toy while supporting their learning and growth. Conversely, if a toy is too advanced or simple, it can lead to frustration or boredom. It may not contribute to your child’s overall development.
What are the guidelines for developmentally appropriate toys?
There are various guidelines depending on your child’s age and developmental stage. However, toys should generally be safe and durable while promoting exploration, creativity, and learning. For infants, toys that stimulate their senses and encourage movement are ideal, whereas, for older children, toys that promote problem-solving, imagination, and physical activity are more appropriate.
At what age can you start Montessori toys?
These toys encourage hands-on exploration and problem-solving, supporting your child’s learning and development. They can be used from birth as long as they are developmentally appropriate. Montessori toys for infants often stimulate the senses. At the same time, those for older children may involve more complex problem-solving and creative exploration.
What means developmentally appropriate toys and equipment for infants mean?
Simply put, these toys are safe and stimulating, encouraging exploration and learning at your child’s current stage of development. For example, simple toys such as rattles and soft toys are appropriate for newborns. In contrast, toys that promote crawling, standing, and hand-eye coordination are more suitable for older infants.
Do infants need toys for development?
The answer is a resounding “yes.” Toys can stimulate your baby’s senses, promote physical activity, and encourage exploration and learning. However, choosing appropriate toys that match your child’s age and developmental stage is crucial.
Which stage of development is known as the toy age?
There is no specific stage of development known as the toy age. However, children from infancy to preschool generally tend to be most interested in and benefit from playing with toys.
What is the 20-toy rule?
This guideline suggests limiting the number of toys available to your child at any time to 20. The idea is that having fewer toys encourages your child to play more creatively and deeply with each toy rather than jumping from one toy to the next without fully engaging with any of them.