Choosing the right toy for your young child
Toys that encourage appropriate developmental skills by age group
By now, most kids have a mile long holiday wish list, but it may consist of toys they have only seen on TV commercials or in toy catalogs. Which toys are actually good for their learning and development?
There are so many different toys available these days, and it’s difficult to choose toys that your children will enjoy, but are also beneficial to their learning and development. Below are a few ideas of toys that will encourage the appropriate developmental skills by age group:
- Birth to 6 months: Young babies will benefit from rattles and other toys that are easy to grasp with tiny hands. Unbreakable mirrors will help your baby to visually focus and promote social and emotional development. Remember that all toys will go into their mouth at this age, so make sure all toys are safe. Tummy time is essential for developing gross motor skills and neck strength, and there are many different tummy time floor mats available.
- 7-12 months: Older babies are very interested in exploring their environment and love interactive toys. Cause and effect toys, or toys that make a response when touched, are great for learning at this age. Toys that move, such as push toys, pull toys and large balls will help your child learn to crawl and walk. Small drool-proof books with pictures will encourage bonding time with your children and develop language as you read to them.
- Toddlers (1-3 years): Toddlers are quickly learning language, fine and gross motor skills. Dolls, puppets and dress up clothes are great for pretend play and language development. Blocks, cars and puzzles will work on fine motor skills and develop hand strength. Ride on toys will develop coordination, leg strength and trunk strength. Balls for kicking, throwing and catching can advance hand-eye coordination.
- Preschoolers (4-5 years): Bicycles, tricycles and balls of all sizes are great for kids in the preschool age. It’s important to keep kids active so that they are learning coordination and balance skills. Make sure you include a helmet for safety! Video games, movies and computer/tablet games may be on your child’s wish list, but remember to limit screen time to 30-60 minutes per day. Board games are a good way to encourage play with family members as well as friends. They are also great for taking turns, learning rules and developing fine motor skills as you manipulate small pieces or dice.
About the author
Amanda Whitmire PT, DPT, is a physical therapist at Cook Children's. Physical therapy at Cook Children's focuses on large motor and functional skils to enhance development, restore function and prevent disability from pediatric conditions, illness or injury. Cook Children's has Rehabilition Services in locations in Fort Worth, Hurst and most recently in Mansfield.