I know! I know! We've barely made it through Halloween! However, it seems that many stores begin their marketing for the holiday season earlier each year. An inevitable question I am asked is “What are the best types of toys to get for my infant/toddler this year?” As I walk down the toy aisles, I realize how intimidating the simple act of choosing toys has gotten. There are so many options! My answer might surprise you. I recommend considering “old school” toys for infants and toddlers. Most toys come with bells, whistles, sounds, buttons, lights, or even screens. These flashy toys can be very enticing. However, many of them may not be developmentally appropriate. Infants and toddlers use play to explore, develop, and learn how to interact with the materials in their environment. Play is the “work” of children and many electronic toys do not challenge toddlers to explore in a variety of ways. Here is a list of toy suggestions which promote development at different age levels:
Birth to 6 months: The best toys for this age range are toys which encourage reaching, mouthing, banging, shaking, exploring different textures, and experimenting with noises. Babies this age also enjoy faces. Some examples include board books with different textures, teething rings, unbreakable mirrors, and soft dolls.
7 months to 18 months: This stage of development is all about learning to move and also starting to understand what words mean. Toys which encourage exploring fine motor skills are nesting blocks, containers to take objects out of and put objects in, ring stacks, or soft blocks to stack. Gross motor skills can be supported with large balls or walking push toys. Picture books are also great for this age range. Choose books that have one to two simple pictures per page.
18 months to 3 years: Children are starting to develop more complex play schemes through pretend play, learning to say first words, and further refining motor skills during this age. Pretend play toys include dolls, action figures, kitchen sets, tool boxes, train sets, plastic animals, and dress-up clothes. Language is supported through books which include rhyming or repetitive phrases with pictures of common objects. Motor skills can be refined through puzzles, playdough, crayons, markers, blocks, and balls.
I hope this list helps make choosing toys for your tot a little easier.
Come Play with Us!
The Parent Education – Infant Development program and the Children’s Museum of Richmond’s Fredericksburg location invite you to come and play with us at the inaugural “Special Night for Special Needs”. This event will be held this November 13, 2015 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. This event is FREE for children with special needs, ages birth to 10 years of age, and their families! You will have full access to all of the museum’s activities, a performance by the Rappahannock Kids on the Block, and a special story time. The staff of the PEID program will be there to help children and families access the activities. No need to RSVP, just show up! If you have any questions, please feel free to call (540) 372-3561. Funding for this activity is provided by the Anne Felder Fund of the Community Foundation of the Rappahannock River Region. We look forward to seeing you!