EEEK! Time for one of my very favorite topics! Babies and toddlers are my favorite age group to treat and I love finding new toys to help these little babes develop. Toys are divided by age groups, with newborns, babies and toddlers. Descriptions of purpose of the toy and how it helps are also listed for you. And, yes, mama, I even provided shopping links for you! Super quick and easy!
Newborns (0-4 months)
Tummy Time Essentials: I know, I know, all anyone ever talks about is tummy time! I know, that you know, how important it is. I am passionate about helping mamas find a way to help their babe be successful with tummy time, and I will go into this in wayyyy more detail on a tummy time post coming soon! So if you need all the ideas on how to make tummy time more enjoyable, subscribe below so you’ll be notified when that post goes up! For now, check out these toys that make tummy time sooo much easier: tummy time mirror, water mat, light bar activity station, and prop-a-pillar (you’ll see this one again).
Early Grasping: keep in mind, newborns will prefer to keep their hands fisted until around 3-4ish months. Encouraging opening their hand to reach for and grasp for toys is essential for their development in so many ways. These are my favorite toys to work on early grasping with the littles: NogginStick, oball, and Winkel Rattle & Teether.
Babies (4 months – 12 months)
Sitting: Working on sitting with your little is such a fun and exciting time. While I am partial to every single developmental milestone, I must admit, sitting is one of my favorites. It allows your babe to see the world from a whole new perspective. It’s so fun to watch. Here are my favorite toys for working on sitting: prop-a-pillar (I like to wrap it around the front of them to the back so they can prop their arms on it — you can also use a Boppy pillow for this), activity cubes, pounding bench, stacking rings, and spin toys.
Crawling: Now it’s time to get these babies moving in a forward progression! Here are my favorite toys to encourage crawling in your babe (PS this is another future blog post topic): school bus, textured balls, train, and pull-back cars.
Pulling to Stand & Standing: and here we go, up to standing! Your little is getting so close to working on taking their first steps and I am so stinkin’ excited for you. Working on walking is definitely another one of my favorite milestones to experience. And, here are my faves for working on pulling to stand and standing balance: play table, pop up toys, and barn toy (or really any toy with multiple pieces to encourage your babe pulling up).
Pre-Walking: let’s work on taking a few steps (yet, another, future blog post)! There are so many fun ways to encourage walking skills in your babe and I cannot wait to share them with you. For now, here are my favorite toys to get your babe one step closer to walking: push toy (I like this one because the wheels are adjustable to slow them down at first), ride on toys, and pop up toys (look for ones that are pretty wide – mama or dada holds the toy and babe holds on as well for a support surface while walking).
Toddlers (12 months – 3 years)
Stairs: now it’s time! We need to get your babe safely walking up and down stairs. In order to prepare them for this intimidating task, we need to break it down. Here are great toys for doing just that: stepping stones, and foam mats with stairs. The Nugget couch is another amazing option that we love in our home!
Jumping: now, it’s time to get those kiddos off the ground! Here are my favorite toys to work on jumping: poly dots, hopscotch, rody horse, and trampoline with bar.
Standing on One Foot: let’s work on that balance! Balance skills are essential for so many aspects of childhood play. Here are my favorite toys for working on standing on one foot that can be used for general balance challenges as well: teeter popper, soccer game, and bubbles (have your kiddo pop them with their toes).
Alright, friends! That’s my list of my FAVORITES. Of course, there are soooo many more amazing toys that you can use to work on these, but I just wanted to share the highlights. So, let me know in the comments, what are your favorite developmental toys for babies and toddlers?
Until next time!
**Disclaimer that these are my favorite toys for promoting development and ones that I often use in my practice as a pediatric physical therapist. If you have concerns about your child’s development or would like more specific ideas on toys, please reach out to your pediatrician, Parents as Teachers or other early intervention program in your area.