Educational Toys for Babies and Toddlersby Teresa Shaw | September 8, 2008 12:00 AM
From the beginning, play is a crucial part to a baby's development. Whether it's reaching for a mobile dangling from above him or her in the crib or a stack of blocks, playing helps infants and toddlers to develop a vivid imagination, as well as valuable social and developmental skills.
Educational toys are designed to help stimulate natural curiosity. Following is a guide of some toys for the different stages of a baby's life.
Educational Toys for a 0-3 Month Old Baby
Infants' vision is still developing. As such, they will respond to toys of high contrast, such as bright colors or black and white designs. Plush, brightly colored items are essential.
- Wrist rattles encourage discovery and help to stimulate hand-eye coordination in infants. Attach rattles to baby's hands or feet for baby to look at and play with.
- Infant Mobiles, especially with bright colors or high contrast patterns, stimulate baby's vision. Hang a mobile over the crib, and another one over the changing table to stimulate your infant's development.
Educational Toys for a 3-6 Month Old Baby
At 3-6 months of age, babies are beginning to learn to sit up and grasp items with their hands.
- Tiny Love Gymini Total Playground is a play mat that provides a variety of textures, colors, sounds, and lights for baby's development. Infants can be placed on their backs to look up at the various toys overhead, babies can use it for tummy time, and older babies can shake, rattle, and roll the interactive toys around the mat.
- Lamaze Freddie the Firefly is a plush toy with busy wings with a peek-a-boo mirror for interactive play. Multiple textures keep your baby interested and encouraging him or her to explore.
Educational Toys for a 6-9 Month Old Baby
By 6 to 9 months, many babies are able to stand without support and begin to crawl. Toys that baby can play with on the floor will help in development of these skills.
- LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table grows with your child—it can first sit on the floor, and later legs can be added to make it a table, where toddlers can stand up and play. Activities on the table are designed to provide visual and auditory stimulation and motor skill development, as well as opportunities to learn about colors, the alphabet, and opposites for older children.
- Stacking Rings, such as the Fisher-Price Rock-A-Stack, stimulate the senses, encourage motor skills, and help develop cognitive abilities. The brightly colored rings in graduated sizes are a classic toy that's as fun for young babies to look at as it is for older ones to grasp and play with.
Educational Toys for a 9-12 Month Old Baby
By around 9 months, babies will begin to pull themselves up to standing by holding onto furniture or people. In addition, they are developing fine motor control and can stretch out one hand to grasp small toys and pass them from hand to hand. These two toys will encourage standing and fine motor skills.
- Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby's First Blocks is a set of brightly colored shapes tucked into a bucket. Baby can dump out the shapes, play with them and put them back inside the bucket, and develop eye-hand coordination and other early skills at the same time.
- Hasbro Playskool Step Start Walk 'n Ride is two toys in one—a walker for little ones learning to stand, and a ride-on toy. The toy features fun sights, silly sounds and interesting textures.
Educational Toys for a 12-18 Month Old Baby
At around 1 year, babies begin to walk for the first time. Encourage walking and other motor skills with pull toys, and fine motor skills with a bead maze.
- Baby Bead Mazes are classic children's toy. The brightly colored, multi-shaped beads spin and slide along colorful wire pathways, and encourage color recognition, eye-hand coordination, and fine motor development.
- Pull Toys can be pulled behind baby with a string, and feature sounds and bright colors. Pull toy encourages growth of motor skills and balance in babies who are able to walk without assistance.
Educational Toys for a 18-24 Month Old Toddler
Toddlers at this age are quite active, and love to climb and run. They can also hold in their minds the memory of an object well after it is removed from their sight. Take advantage of this by playing hide-and-seek with her favorite toy, and by trying these toys.
- The Farmer Says by Fisher-Price is a classic toy for kids 18 months and older. Simply point the arrow, pull the lever, and an animal sound will be generated—16 in all.
- Infantino Matching Colors and Textures Puzzles help children learn colors and words, develop matching skills and early problem solving, and increase sensory skills and hand-eye coordination. One piece of the puzzle has a picture and name of a color or texture, and the second piece has a picture and name of a familiar object, such as an animal or food.
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