If You Want Smart Kids, You Need These Early Development Toys

The best developmental toys are tactile and aid in supporting your child's growth and learning at different levels, like reaching toys for babies up to 6 months of age or activity books for 3-year-old toddlers to help cultivate their fine motor skills.

By Jennifer Hollohan | Published

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We live in a highly digital age, and most people spend tons of time connected to screens. However, young children still need tactile things to help them grow. The good news is that even with the proliferation of technology, some great development toys are still available for little ones.

Babies and toddlers spend a significant amount of time rapidly learning and growing. Keeping up with their needs can feel intimidating. But with appropriate development toys, you can support your child’s growth.

HSS spoke with a pediatric physical therapist, Magdalena Oledzka, about what to look for in an appropriate toy. She said, “As children go through different developmental stages, the right toy for them should target motor, play and cognitive skills. This could mean reaching for and activating a toy, using a toy that encourages a child to practice standing, walking or playing with a ball, or a toy that helps improve balance, coordination and motor planning.”

Those are all great guidelines, but how do you determine which toy is right for which age? The best thing to do is consider where your kiddo is physically and emotionally, then select a development toy to support them. For example, babies up to 6 months old are working on honing their gross motor development.

Development toys that encourage movement, such as sitting or reaching, are fantastic options. Or opt for toys designed for tummy time. Some choices include activity mats, mobiles, rattles, mirrors, and textured books or toys. 

Between 6 and 12 months, little ones grow tremendously. They are sitting and working on learning how to crawl or walk. Additionally, they benefit from more mental stimulation found in music and reading. 

For kiddos in this age range, opt for development toys that encourage movement and activity. The great news is that there are endless fun options! Choose from musical instruments, standing push toys, stationary play tables, shape sorters, board books, stacking blocks, and more!

And once your little one has hit a year, the fun starts ramping up. One to two-year-olds are becoming more aware of their bodies and starting to get into pretend play. Support them with small puzzles with knob handles, child-size household items, ride-on toys, pull toys, pretend play items, and picture books.

Once kiddos hit three years old, they begin improving their fine motor skills, working on peer interactions, and making leaps and bounds in coordination. The best development toys for this age include 3-wheeled scooters, activity books, art supplies, beginner board games, more advanced puzzles, memory card games, construction toys, and story books. And if you feel brave, add some early sporting equipment!

The most important thing is to find age-appropriate development toys. Asking a young child to play with something far beyond their ability may lead to frustration. And at this stage, learning should be fun.

Additionally, keep choking hazards away from kids and supply them with the appropriate safety equipment as needed. But the good news is that there are countless development toys to choose from. So find one that puts a smile on your child’s face!