Babies begin to learn right after birth, and even though babies develop at their own pace, choosing toys that allow them to practice developmental milestones is helpful. Knowing which developmental milestones babies normally reach in a given age range can help you decide which toys to purchase to help with those skills.
Toys for 0 to 3 Months
Babies make great strides in the first three months of life. Find toys that engage the senses and encourage interactions like grasping. Some of the most beneficial senses to stimulate in the first months of life are hearing, seeing and touching. Look for toys that play music, have bold, easily recognizable colors like black and white, and toys with a variety of textures and shapes. Toys to consider purchasing include:
- Rattles, like the Sassy Spin Shine Rattle
- Teething toys
- Books with tactile experiences like the Peek-A-Boo Forest cloth book
- Mats and mobiles like the Baby Einstein Nautical Play Gym
- Travel toys like the Car Seat Gallery.
Toys for 3 to 12 Months
Between the ages of three and twelve months, your baby will reach many important milestones like rolling over, imitating sounds and grasping objects. He will begin to sit, stand and even walk with (and without!) assistance. Your baby's world is expanding rapidly, and his toys should reflect his new horizons. Activities like sorting, stacking and pushing buttons are important early on during this developmental stage, while later on beneficial toys will include those that help develop balance, strength and hand-eye coordination.
- Baby gyms and play mats
- Soft blocks
- Peek-A-Boo toys
- Music blocks
- Busy Ball Drop
- Ride on toys and rocking horses
- Coloring books
- Push toys
- Fill-and-spill toys
- Toys that encourage fine and gross motor skills like the Incrediblock
- Learning kits that include a wide variety of activities from puppets and puzzles to blocks and flashcards
One Year to Two Years
During their second year, babies really blossom! They are suddenly mobile and curious about everything. Riding toys are important, as they help your youngster explore the world around him. Musical toys and dolls are also an enjoyable part of play for the one to two year set. Here are a few recommendations for your toddler:
- Sort-and-Roll School Bus
- Laugh and Play Learning Puppy
- Learn & Groove Musical Table
- Little People Sweet Sounds Home
- Little People Wheelies Stand 'n Play Rampway
You Are Part of the Education in Educational Toys
All the toys in the world won't provide the real stimulation that your infant needs. This should come from you! While you can use these toys to play with your infant, you should also play peek-a-boo and patty cake, talk to your baby and sing songs. Encourage your baby to grasp items. These are simple activities that will go a long way toward stimulating your baby's brain. Parents can't expect to put an educational toy in front of their babies and see effortless improvements. According to the publication Healthy Children from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the care and experiences parents provide affects their babies' developing brains. Educational baby toys work, but you have to make them work.