The most age-appropriate toys for babies and kids according to an early childhood development expert
No batteries required.
If you find yourself asking, "What toys should I get my preschool-aged child this holiday season that will foster their development and be educational for them?" Then you have come to the right place!
Many toys make annoying sounds, take up space, and worst of all, don't encourage the child to play but rather are designed to entertain them. However, the right toys can help aid a child's cognitive development in multiple ways.
Why have toys such as rattles, blocks, and dolls stood the test of time? As technology advances, you would think old toys like these would be tossed aside for shinier and brighter items. Yet, most babies today own these items. It is because these simple toys encourage problem-solving, imagination, creativity, and sensory exploration.
I am a former preschool teacher with an education in Early Childhood Development and now homeschool my preschool-aged children. Here is a list of toys I purchase for my children and for anyone in my life who has a baby or young child.
Infants to 6 months
Babies love to look at faces and put everything in their mouths. Textured balls, teethers, rattles, unbreakable mirrors, and board books are toys that will help baby explore more of their senses and learn more about their environment.
Ideal for grabbing, rolling and even cramming into their mouths. That's what learning looks like at this age!
Not only do they help soothe teething woes, but the bubble popping design makes them a tactile delight as well.
The rattle is made to perfectly fit those tiny hands so your child can stimulate their sensory development as they watch, listen to and handle the rattle.
Bright and colorful with lift-the-flap pages, these books are perfect for pre-readers to explore their prediction and memory skills. Not to mention they can identify a few new animal friends in the process.
7 months to 1 year
Babies at this age are moving around a ton and are learning about cause and effect. They enjoy watching things drop and taking things out. Wooden blocks and touch and feel books are excellent toys for this age. Toys that foster their gross motor skills, such as pull toys and large balls, are perfect for this age. Older babies are also learning more about their world and their bodies. Board books showcasing generic body features (eyes, hair, nose, legs) are wonderful as well.
These natural blocks encourage constructive play and fine motor skills, as well as number, letter and shape recognition. When it's time to clean up, put the blocks in the included organic, unbleached cotton drawstring bag for easy storage.
Use all your senses to read this interactive book, developed with help from children and designed with every young reader in mind. High contrast images and tactile features like a shoelace, fun textures and a scratch-and-sniff ice cream make this book a fun sensory adventure.
This little friend helps babies and toddlers develop gross motor and coordination skills.
Easy for little hands to manipulate, this colorful sensory ball encourages them to experiment with holding, squeezing, dropping, rolling and chasing—skills that help develop hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills as well as baby's sense of cause and effect and spatial awareness.
Signing with baby is a great way of teaching early communication skills. Introduce your little one to forty signs involving a toddler's daily activities inside the home (described in text and demonstrated in pictures) including the signs for brush, pants, hearing aid, and bath with this colorful and engaging board book.
1 to 2 years
Blocks continue to be beneficial for the child at this age as they learn different ways to use and build with them. They will also begin exploring more creative outlets, such as coloring and painting. Washable, non-toxic markers and paints would make a great present. Puzzles, illustrated books, and items for pretend play, such as baby dolls, kitchen items, and stuffed animals, are great as well!
Hand-painted in San Francisco using organic paints and polished with organic jojoba oil and beeswax, these gorgeous natural blocks are made from untreated white birch and count from 1-10 with various shapes on each block corresponding with the number.
Simple and fun, this colorful puzzle is a full sensory experience. Each pet features a different soft fabric while the mirror in the middle is perfect for peek-a-boo!
Celebrate all the sights, sounds and textures of the seasons with this delightful board book set. The rich illustrations and engaging text are perfect for developing speech and language.
2 to 3 years
Your little foodie can use the set to wash, chop and create yummy fruit and vegetable dishes, then they can clean up in minutes by putting everything back in the included wooden storage crate.
Zoom it around, take it apart and put it back together! This sweet wooden ice cream truck is one they'll come back to again and again.
3 to 6 years
Building on the toys, they have but more advanced. Larger puzzles with more pieces, along with more extensive or intricate block sets. Action figures and dolls allow them to create different scenarios for their toys fostering imaginative play and creativity. Craft and art projects are more detailed and meaningful at this age, as well. Illustrated books with advanced illustrations along with musical instruments are very beneficial for children in this age group.
The extra-thick pieces are easy for little hands to hold, making this a screen-free activity the whole family can enjoy.
Brightly colored and smoothly sanded wooden blocks connect with mess-free glue circles to help them hone their 3D building skills.
With long arms and legs that are perfect for toting her around, this adorable fabric doll is as stylish as she is loveable.
Delicate, colorful and distinctive, Julia Groves' illustrations introduce little ones to the animals that live in this endangered habitat.
Get the band together with this super fun set. Including a tambourine with cymbals, guitar, harmonica, trumpet and a clapper there's plenty of toe-tapping music to be made.
When it comes to toys and children, less is more. Chances are they will have more fun playing with your car keys and trash than that fancy designer rattle.
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