It’s extremely important to choose the right toys for your children. It is highly recommended that you choose toys that are not harmful or dangerous and most of all, age-appropriate. Little children can learn so many new things through play.  You can select the toys that are just right for your child’s skill level. Such toys should encourage intellectual stimulation and physical growth.

With so many toys available on the market, choosing the right ones can be an overwhelming task.  Toys these days can be quite expensive so it is better to weigh which toys suit your little ones needs.

In the first couple of months, infants appreciate things they can look at and listen to since they’re not able to grasp yet or sit up independently. Colorful patterns usually captivate them because they’re easier for them to see. Also, it is at this stage infants are learning to appreciate sounds and music. It would be best to have bright colorful toys that move slowly and produce gentle and soothing sounds.  Toys that are recommended at this early developmental age include crib mobiles, hand-held toys,  rattles, music makers, stuffed animals, baby phones, activity cubes, five colorful ring sets, musical rhyme books, soft books, kick and play piano gym, ring-a-links, baby bouncers,  music boxes, and bath time squishy animal squirt toys.

One year old toddlers are now able to make their way around their environment and interact with objects more at this stage. They can crawl, cruise, creep and may be able to stand and most of all, walk.  Your toddler has also started using objects as tools such as pushing a ball with a stick or chasing the food around his plate with a spoon. They’re now also more interested in interactive games and are beginning to understand more and more words.  They also are able to recognize the names of familiar faces and associate words with objects.  At this developmental stage, it is very important to look at your toddler’s toys closely because they will use their senses to interact with their world.  You will want to be sure that all the toys your toddler plays with are safe and not harmful.  Your toddler will enjoy playing and interacting with balls, toy telephones, stacking blocks, touch and feel books, shape sorters, washable soft cloth books, bead maze, grasping baby toys,  pop ‘n play, little people animal farm, animals see ‘n say, 3 piece puzzle sets, pail and shovels,  and theme play mats.

Toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2 years are now more interested in the results of their daily activities. They don’t get tired of repeating things over and over again. At this age, they will now try to imitate what they see adults doing around them. Recommended toys for this age include toys that imitate daily life such as stacking rings, hammering sets, climbing gym, washable crayons and paper, simple musical instruments, picture books, ride-on vehicles, sorting and nesting toys, large building bricks and push and pull toys.

When your toddlers turn 3, they are now confident with the way they walk, run and jump. They’re now ready for more challenging toys and will appreciate other kids. This is a good time to encourage your child to participate in simple memory, matching, and counting games.  Interactive games with peers are very important at this age to help increase and build on their socialization skills.   Recommended toys at this age are puzzles, kid-size kitchen utensils, mini kitchen play sets, wooden play food, board and memory games, 100 piece wooden block set, bowling games, construction sets, outdoor equipment, hop and count hopscotch rug, wooden barn & animals, Mr. potato head, colorful counting bears & cups, magnetic fishing rod set, learning mat crayons, alphabet sound puzzle, tabletop easel art set, and art supplies & activity books.

When choosing toys for your infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, always remember that there are several things you need to consider. Most importantly, focus on toys that are high quality, age-appropriate and safe. Your children can get off to a good start when you’re at their side and helping them learn to appreciate and enjoy their toys.

Jo Ann Gramlich is an award-winning author and speech-language pathologist specializing in helping children with communication disorders in Buffalo, New York. She holds a Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from SUNY Buffalo and has extensive experience in early intervention, preschool, and school settings. Visit her on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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