Toys To Promote Gross Motor Development

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!

xoxo, Lo

**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.

Baby Shower Registries & Gifts

In case you didn’t know already, I LOVE babies and almost as much as I love babies, I LOVE baby showers!! I love decorating for them, picking out gifts for them – I find them to be the sweetest way to welcome a new babe and to honor a beautiful mama! Some of the most common questions I am asked is “what is the best gift to give someone at a baby shower” or “what should I put on my registry”, or even “what do I not need to put on my registry”. Soooo, let me tell you my thoughts on this! We are ONLY tackling baby shower gifts today, throwing a shower will be its own post!

First up: baby registries – what you need and what you don’t need. Remember, this is all my opinion, sooo you might agree (or not) and that’s okay! TELL ME about it in the comments – I’d LOVE to hear what you think should be added or taken away! Also, this is by no means an inclusive list – simply my “must haves” and things I got that I didn’t need. Common items (bottles, toys, etc.) are NOT on my lists, please still get those!

What you NEED:
Swaddles – that fit snugglyOllie Swaddle

  • These are a MUST have to help your little babe adjust to life (and sleep) outside of the womb – let me tell you, all of our girls have been AMAZING sleepers and I’m convinced it’s at least partially because of these. This swaddle comes in a variety of colors and is adjustable for your babe (and it’s velcro – sooo easy to use). This was the only swaddle we could find that consistently stayed in place and was easy to use during middle of the night diaper changes. It is also a swaddle you can use with both arms in, one arm out or both arms out!

Sound machine – that plays continuouslyHatch or Rohm

  • Honestly, ANY sound machine will do, as long as you can put it on white noise and it will continuously play, these are just the two that we have! I personally love the Hatch because it becomes an okay to wake clock when they’re older AND you can control it all from your phone. We use this feature a TON not only with our toddler but also with the twins to turn up the sound machine volume if they start fussing or there is a lot of noise in our home.

Sleep sacksNested Bean Sleep Sacks

  • We love the Nested Bean Sleep Sacks for once your babe is out of the swaddle. These sleep sacks are so soft and cozy. The best part is that they have a little weight to the chest of the swaddle to make your babe feel comforted at night.

Nail Trimmer – this one is a lifesaver – Baby Nail Trimmer

  • Cutting baby nails is one of my biggest fears! They have the tiniest, flimsiest nails EVER. This trimmer works like a dremel for dogs, so NO cutting involved and it has different attachments based on baby’s age! It’s fantastic!

What is SO NICE to have, but probably (or definitely) not a need:
Bottle Sterilizer and Dryer – this thing is amazing, but super bougey – Baby Brezza

  • Cleaning bottles and drying them for the next day is a BIG time consumer, especially if you work outside the home. The fact that this thing DRIED the bottles made this process super quick and easy. If you are looking for a time saver, you found it!

Baby Tub – for infants, use THIS and for when babe can sit up, use THIS

  • These bathtubs were lifesavers for us, we loved the flower when she was itty bitty because we could adjust the petals to support her as needed and now we are using the blow-up bathtub! Addie loves it, it saves water and is just so cute!

What I do not THINK you need on your registry:

  • Wipe warmer – we have one and never used it
  • Mittens to keep them from scratching their face – they still scratch their face and the onesies with built-in mittens seem to work better
  • Baby clothes – EVERYONE buys these whether you register or not

For my breastfeeding mamas, ADD these items:

  • Hakaa pump it will collect milk on the breast the infant is not currently feeding on and saves everything you would leak!
  • Microwave sterilizing bagsmakes the cleaning process sooo much easier and takes way less time

If you are a guest at a baby shower and are wondering what to bring for your gift, consider these gift combos! {NOTE: for all gift baskets, put the gift in a cute basket the mama can use for storage and use a blanket to support the items instead of tissue paper! }
Gift Basket #1 (the gift of sleep):

  • Muslin blankets – I love the aden & anais ones
  • Swaddle – remember, any that will fit snugly will do – I recommend the Ollie
  • Pajamas – we love these
  • Lovey – we were given this one, and it was embroidered with Addie’s name (THANK YOU Aunt Amber!)

Gift Basket #2 (the gift of food):

  • Bottles – this one can be tricky, because all babes are different, but we used the Avent bottles with no troubles – be sure to check the mama’s registry to see if she has a preference for bottles
  • Utensilsthese are Addie’s favorites to use
  • Plates and Bowls – we love these bowls and these plates that stick to the tray so Addie can’t throw them on the floor

Gift Basket #3 (the gift of fun):

  • Play mat – we have this Skip Hop one and we loved the size and all of the colors and textures on it, but I’ve also heard wonderful things about the Lovevery one
  • Light up toys – here are some of our favorites
  • High contrast toys
  • Books – you guys knew this was coming, right?! I mean I AM a book lady! Check out these infant and toddler books!

Thanks for reading all of the way to the end!! I appreciate you!! PLEASE drop comments about what you think I should add (or subtract) to my lists! What did you like? What did you not like?! I wanna know!
Until next time,

xoxo, Lo


Hiiiiiiii friends! I’m Lauren. I’m a girl mama, wife, pediatric physical therapist and book lady. I am a mama to my sweet girls, Addison, Aria and Everly and fur baby pup, Milo (german shepherd mix). | © All Rights Reserved

The reasons I decided to start this blog…

  1. Peds PT: I am so passionate about what I do and love educating families on child development and how to help their children reach their full potential. We’ll talk typical development, how to encourage gross motor skill development, positioning & more!
  2. Books: Our family lives and breathes books. Our girls love them and we love reading with them. Reading aloud is something that truly brings our family together.
  3. Mama Life: Being a mom is the biggest blessing in my life but also one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, so let’s talk about it.
  4. Other: Who knows what else might come up!

I would LOVE feedback on what you’re loving, what you want more of and even what you are not into! I would love to create a community of mamas who are here to support, encourage, help and empower one another. There is too much hate in the world, let’s spread some mama love.

xoxo, lo