Buyer’s Guide – Babies & Infants Toys

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Baby toys are designed to stimulate your baby’s senses, allow him or her to discover the world around them, exercise muscles and produce smiles and laughter.  Many toys can help your baby develop, using abilities such as motor skills, language, and cause-and-effect reasoning.

Throughout your baby’s first years, the type of toys you provide your baby with may differ.  Following are lists of age-appropriate toys for the first years.

Babies:  0 – 6 Months

Young babies love to see bright primary colors, so toys with high contrasts and simple designs are best.  Also, toys should be light and soft for your baby to easily be able to handle – especially since they are horizontal most of the time.  Some toys appropriate for your 0 – 6 month old are the following:

  • Rattles and teethers:  While teething, chewable rings and rattles will help keep your little one content.  Some manufacturers provide a variety of teethers that can be put in the refrigerator when not in use so that when your baby needs it, the coolness can give some relief to sore gums.
  • Sensory Toys:  This age period is all about discovery – your child is learning how to use their hands, feet, eyes and most of their senses.  These developmental toys give babies things to squeeze that will make them make noise and/or move.  These toys allow your baby to learn that their actions cause things to happen.
  • Crib Toys and Accessories:  Durable, colorful crib toys assist in keeping baby satisfied while in the crib.  For this age, crib toys such as unbreakable mirrors and mock aquariums should be attached to the side.    A moving mobile above the crib can amaze and calm a fussy infant.
  • Play Mats or Gyms:  Play mats and gyms give your baby multiple opportunities for teething, exploring, and looking around.  These activity sets come in a variety of shapes and sizes – many of which have incorporated sound and bright colors to keep your infant’s attention.  Like other infant toys, play mats can help teach the cause-and-effect theory, as well as give you a place to put your child for valuable tummy time.
  • Baby Books:  You can read to your child every day from the day he or she is born.  Soft books or those with thick cardboard pages can offer great durability as your baby discovers good books.

If you ever have a question, you can always consult the manufacturer’s suggested age for the age appropriateness of the toy you have selected for your baby.

Babies:  6 – 12 Months

During this time, babies are becoming more aware of their surroundings.  They are still teething, sitting, learning how to grasp, pulling themselves up, crawling, and beginning to stand and walk alone.  Since they begin to move by themselves, they start to control objects, show a great interest in playing and identify their favorite toys.  Toys that you buy for your baby during this stage should be interactive and sturdy.

  • Activity Tables:  These tables provide colorful buttons, switches, and noises that will keep your child’s attention.  They can help to support newly standing or walking babies, holding them upright while attracting them to the bright colors and sounds.
  • Balls:  Crawling babies love to chase after and roll or toss soft, lightweight balls.  As they grow, the type of ball may change, but this will help with early development of motor skills.
  • Stacking Blocks or Cups:  Young babies will enjoy knocking them down – however dexterity will improve gradually through the use of stacking blocks or cups.
  • Walkers/Toys with Wheels:  A walker or push toy can help keep your baby balanced while learning to walk.  Crawling babies enjoy pushing around cars, trains or anything else on wheels on the floor.
  • Stuffed Animals:  At this point, you baby may decide on a favorite stuffed toy such as a bear, dog or baby doll.  Stuffed toys provide your baby warmth and comfort.
  • Tub Toys:  There are many types of bath toys to keep your baby busy in the tub.  As they get older they love anything from the classic rubber duckie to musical instruments they can play with during bathtime.
  • Books:  Babies at this age love to turn pages of books themselves, as well as explore the colors and words.  Durable cardboard books are helpful and they will also get pleasure from books with interactive elements such as buttons that play sounds as well as pop-up books.

Toddlers:  1 – 2 Years

At this age, toddlers can keep themselves busy for longer periods of time as they have a combination of energy, mobility and independence.  Developmental toys during this time will allow them to exercise their new skills as well as grow a better understanding of how their actions affect the things around them.

  • Outdoor Toys:  Your toddler will begin to enjoy outdoor play sets with climbers, small slides and baby swings.  At this age, you child will also enjoy filling and dumping buckets.  Get a small sandbox for your backyard and add some sand toys.  Also, kid size cars will allow him or her to take a ride around your house or yard.
  • Activity Toys:  This category is where many of the age appropriate toys fall.  Activity toys include any of those that have things your child can open or close, flip switches, press buttons – or do just about anything else that can provide endless fun.
  • Drawing Utensils:  Your toddler will relish the opportunity to create his or her own masterpieces.  Use washable crayons, pens and finger paints to ensure cleanup isn’t too difficult.  Also available are drawing sets that use water or magnets to create the pictures – these are great when you’re on the road.
  • Toy Tools and Kitchens:  Kids this age begin to imitate their parents.  After seeing mom and dad in the kitchen or the workshop, toddlers want to play with the same type of items.  These toys can range from small toy phones and tools to much larger kitchen sets and tool benches.
  • Puzzles:  Your child will enjoy solving simple puzzles at this age.  Encourage your toddler to fit pieces in correctly and provide praise when the puzzle is completed.
  • Books:  Your baby will continue to love to look at books, especially those with more pictures and words.  They will sit for a longer period of time as they further develop their language skills.

Again, with any of the toys listed above, check the manufacturer’s recommended age to determine if the toy is appropriate for your toddler.