Toys are instruments of learning, sparking creativity and curiosity. They have been around, well, as long as human race! Whether it was a stone carved into an animal or a more sophisticated toy with Augmented Reality, there is no debate that toys are essential part of childhood.
With a plethora of toddler toys available these days, selecting a toy has become a task in itself. There are too many choices available. Each one promising to build your toddler’s brain like no other!
But worry not! Below we have listed the best toys, according to your child’s age and stage of development.
Birth to First Year
During the first year, your baby will grow at an exception pace. From barely able to hold its neck, your baby will be sitting by almost 6 months and walking by its first birthday.
Developmentally a lot is happening during the first year. And the toys you select for your baby’s nursery should fit the stage of development. Toys listed below follow the chronological order of development during the first year.
- Toys your baby can look at make a wonderful choice during the first few months of life. Like cot mobiles, play gyms, soft hanging books, unbreakable mirrors etc.
- Once your baby is little over 2 months, add toys that they can hold, grasp or shake to make sound. These include soft toys, textured balls, rattles, squeeze toys, sensory balls.
- It is when your baby is able to sit, you should introduce toys which encourage pretend play like dolls, animal figurines, vehicles, puppets and the likes.
- Choose from Object permanence toys, stackers, nesting dolls, wooden blocks, push and pull toys, big chunky wooden beads and touch & feel books for older babies.
One year olds are extremely curious and forever on the move. This is the time when you introduce toys that channelize their boundless energy and those that help them learn and discover the world around them. Here is good mix of both:
- Sensorial: Sensory toys like water tables, play dough, non-toxic paints, chunky big rubber stamps are ideal for this age.
- Toys that aid Learning & Discovery: Activity cubes, board books, chunky jigsaw puzzles, pegboards, stackers, gardening set, watering can, pretend play sets like kitchenette, shopping carts.
- Motor Skills: Giant balls, trikes, slides, bowling alley, toy phones, trolleys, big beads, play dough, shape sorters.
- Musical: Drums, dholak, toy telephones, sound books, xylophones, maracas, sound puzzles.
Toddler Toys (2 year olds)
Toddler toys need to be sturdier as toddlers love to bang and really test their play equipment. Your toddler with better gross and fine motor control now needs toys that can challenge them (just a bit).
- Motor Skills: Easel, Doodle, hammering toys, 4 to 12 pieces jigsaw puzzles, lacing toys, blocks, connectors, shape sorters, bowling toys, tool sets.
- Sensorial: Sand tables, beach sets, water tables, play dough, non-toxic tempera paints, bubble wands, touch and feel books, sensory squishy balls, whole spice box from your kitchen, perfume strips from your vanity.
- Learning and Discovery: Picture books, activity play stations, animal figurines, construction sets, linking blocks, pegged puzzles, flash cards, bug viewers, stacking and counting toys.
- Musical: Wooden ukulele, music mats, Microphones, drum sets, Music stations, Mini Pianos.
Preschoolers – 3 to 4 years
Preschoolers are really inquisitive and have a long list of ‘Whys’. It is essential that you provide toys and activities that nurture this sense of wonder and helps them discover their own answers. Equipped with greater attention span, your kids are now ready to share, take turns and play simple board games as well.
- Sensorial: All the toys from before like squishy toys, play dough will continue to engage your child.
Add alphabet molds, number molds to make the sand play more interesting. With water tables, add water paints to make colored water and let them explore how colors mix.
You can introduce non-toxic slime, water beads to your preschooler now. With these toys, it is essential that you are always present with your child to avoid mouth contact. Though much wiser to put slime and likes in their mouths, it is strongly recommended that they be under your watchful eye.
- Learning & Discovery: Sequential toys, Duplos, self-correcting puzzles, magnetic puzzles, simple story books, dot to dot books, geometric puzzles, balancing toys, bug viewers, abacus, gear puzzles, open-ended & pretend play toys, loose parts to compare, measure and sort.
- Motor Skills: Chalkboards, Easel, doodle, chunky ball and bell shaped crayons, Linking blocks, nuts and bolts, painting sets, plastic/foam bats and hockey sticks, footballs, small age appropriate trampoline, lacing and beading toys, construction sets and loose parts like chunky buttons, shells, pebbles etc.
- Musical: Add tambourines, flutes to the previous list of toddler musical toys. Your child can now pick up simple rhythm so make use of these toys for some easy rhythm and dance activities.
- Games: Hungry hippos, Snakes and Ladders, Simon says, Connect Four, Think and Match games, story sequencing games.
Kindergarteners (4 to 6 years)
Expose your kindergartener to board games while maintaining toys from previous age groups, according to their interest.
- Games: Hungry hippos, Snakes and Ladders, Simon says, Connect Four, Think and Match games, story sequencing games. Expose your kindergartener to board games while maintaining toys from previous age groups, according to their interest.
- Learning & Discovery: floor puzzles, globe, abacus, DIY kits, craft kits, map puzzles, Story books, simple Knowledge book, magnifiers, dominos etc.
- Motor Skills: Bicycle, scooter, footballs, spinning tops, yo-yos, workbench, plastic bats and balls, basketball, magnetic tiles, twister, trampoline, bouncing balls.
- Games: Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, Dobble, Guess who, Othello, Connect four, Jenga, Balancing toys, Lego sets, Tangram, Rubik cube, Bowling games, fishing games, memory games, Playing cards etc.
The above recommendations try to cover all parts of your child’s development. All these games are safe, but parental supervision can never be eliminated.
You do not need to buy every toy, game you see on the list or in the market. In fact, Research suggests that children benefit from fewer toys.
So, choose according to what you think is right for your child’s interest and stage. Including open-ended toys, musical instruments, loose parts will add creativity and longer life (in terms of child engagement).
Disclaimer: We have refrained from suggesting particular game names as we do not wish it to appear a sponsored post. However, if you need suggestions on a particular type, kindly drop a message in the comment section below.