The best toys engage a child's senses, spark their imaginations and encourage them to interact with others. As they grow, infants can use toys to explore object permanence and cause and effect relationships. They also need objects such as blocks to help them build motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It impacts cognitive development, social and emotional development, as well as language development. It does seem that toys encouraging certain personality traits or styles of playing, like more aggressive play, will have an impact. Kids might play more aggressively if they have toys that encourage aggression. Toys are fun, but toys are also tools that help children learn about themselves and the world around them. Play is critical to the healthy growth and development of children. As children play, they learn to solve problems, to get along with others and to develop the fine and gross motor skills needed to grow and learn.
- Physical dexterity. Swings, wading pools, doll carriages, child-sized vehicles, and ride-on toys help build strength, confidence, and balance.
- Creativity. Finger paints, play dough, paper, and crayons all encourage artistic development, plus the fine-motor skills required for writing.
- Problem-solving. Nature-based activities such as making mudpies and digging in the sandbox, help your child become an experimenter and investigator. Blocks, and anything your child can separate into groups, also encourage both manipulation (good for motor-skill development) and categorization.
- Language development. Reading picture books together is extremely important to building your little one's communication skills.
- Social skills. Dolls and stuffed animals can be used to represent people and play out troubling emotions or situations.
0-4 Months: Babies prepare for developmental achievements during their early months through a mix of motor, sensory and emotional experience. Sensory toys involving textures, sounds and bright, contrasting colors are all great developmental choices for babies. By 4-months-old, babies can bring their hands together in the midline and use their eyes to coordinate hand movement.
4-6 Months: Babies hands are now open, and they’re attempting to reach and grasp objects purposefully. First teeth usually start to erupt around 6 months-old, and everything baby grasps is brought to mouth to teeth on. Objects need to be large enough to not fit completely in the mouth to avoid choking.
6-9 Months: At 6-months-old, babies can sit and manipulate objects with their hands, and their movement patterns are more controlled.
9-12 Months: Babies are now able to sit and pull to stand independently, as well as start to crawl. Push toys need to have a broad, stable base to support babies’ weight and prevent falling.
12-15 Months: Around babies’ first birthdays is when we see their cognitive development really grow. Cause and effect toys are fun, yet challenging. Babies are starting to use words meaningfully and are now standing independently, walking and exploring the environment.
24 Months to 3+ Years: Keeping toddlers busy can be tricky, books are the best toys, for any age, to enhance speech and language development, social and cognitive development and instill in a child the love of reading for a lifetime! Toddlers are starting to name colors, point and name pictures, make animal sounds, starting to count and carry on simple conversations. Make story time interactive and ask questions about the story and see what your toddler comprehends!