Finding the best baby toys for development for your little one may help them achieve milestones sooner. As a new parent, there is a lot to learn about the potential benefits of play in your child’s life.
Among other things, play can contribute to a child’s social and emotional, language, cognitive and physical development. Toys are an important part of play, but how do you go about choosing the best baby toys?
It can be difficult to know which toys will contribute to their development in each stage as well as which toys will end up being well liked and worth your money.
In this blog post, we will give you a brief overview of typical baby development by age and the best baby toys for each stage in their first year.
Best Baby Toys Based on Age and Developmental Stages
Newborn to 2 Months
In the very early days, the most important “toy” an infant can have is a loving parent. Babies go through important emotional developments in the first few weeks of life and good outcomes are dependent on loving care.
A parent can help ensure their baby’s needs are met and nurtured in the newborn phase with activities such as:
- Holding and cuddling them
- Gentle touch
- Smiling at them
- Making eye contact
- Speaking, reading and singing to them
Along with a newborn’s emotional and social development, they will experience many physical developments: bodies will grow rapidly, gain weight and increase in strength. Their senses, which have already begun to develop, will continue to advance, most notably the senses of hearing and sight.
Hearing is actually fully developed at birth, however, babies retain some fluid in the middle ear, making it harder for them to hear lower-pitched sounds. As a result, newborns usually prefer higher-pitched sounds, such as a mother’s voice or music played on high-pitched instruments. As their exposure to new sounds grows so does a child’s language development.
Sight in newborns is not fully developed at birth. At first, they will see better peripherally. After a couple of weeks, they will start to see objects that are close in front of their faces. Patterns of light and dark or high color contrast will be easier to see during this time and they will enjoy gazing at any of those they can find.
Click here to read more about Newborn to 2 Month Old Developmental Milestones and Red Flags.
3 to 4 Months
During months 3 and 4 a baby’s social skills will be developing and they’ll love to look at faces, including their own. They’ll enjoy interacting with others and may even begin to recognize familiar faces during this time.
Their eyesight will continue to advance and they’ll be able to coordinate some movements with sight. This will help with activities such as batting at hanging toys or shaking rattles. They will still enjoy toys with high contrast in color.
During this stage a baby’s physical development includes development in their gross motor skills. They will discover their hands and use them to touch or hold objects. Soft, lightweight toys that can be gripped are good for nurturing this development.
Click here to read more about 3-4 Month Old Developmental Milestones and Red Flags.
5 to 6 Months
From 5 to 6 months a baby’s depth perception improves, and they’ll begin to see the world around them in 3D. They’ll also have better color vision.
Around six months, they might begin teething. This means they’ll likely put anything they can hold into their mouth. Parents need to be extra careful about choking hazards and toys that might splinter, chip, or have sharp edges during this time.
Babies will begin to babble and make lots of single-syllable sounds. Though they likely won’t be communicating with words for a while longer, their language skills will be developing. Parents can work on language development by speaking, singing and reading to them.
During the 5th and 6th months, their muscles will continue to strengthen and their coordination will improve. Physical development may include being able to roll over, kick, move their head up and from side to side. They’ll also become better at reaching for and grasping objects.
Click here to read more about 5-6 Month Old Developmental Milestones and Red Flags.
7 to 9 Months
At 7-9 months, baby development is continuing to progress rapidly. At this age babies start clapping along with you when you sing songs together! This is an extremely social stage where babies love interacting and playing games like “Patty-cake” and “Peek-a-boo”.
They are starting to understand object permanence, objects still exist even when they’re missing from sight. In other words, if baby sees an item being taken away, they’ll understand that it’s still around somewhere.
Cognitive development includes babies responding to their name and starting to use gestures like pointing and waving goodbye. At this stage babies enjoy putting items in different places and retrieving them, and some of the best baby toys for this age encourage that behavioral development.
Physical milestones include baby learning how to sit without help, some babies may even be able to pull themselves up into a standing position with the help of furniture. This is also the stage where babies begin scooting and crawling. Encourage them to explore, but keep them safe!
It’s important that baby has plenty of opportunities for exploration so they can further develop their understanding of their environment. But if you haven’t already baby-proofed your home, now is the time!
Click here to read more about 7-9 Month Old Developmental Milestones and Red Flags.
10 to 12 Months
As baby development continues between 10 to 12 months, many new milestones are reached and babies attention span and desire to play with toys has increased significantly. They love figuring things out and we have found some of the best baby toys for them as they progress.
At this stage baby language development has come leaps and bounds and you will likely hear them talking in short phrases, attempting to copy what they hear from others and babbling away – so be sure to chat back!
Cognitive development between 10 to 12 months includes learning about cause and effect – your baby may begin shaking a toy to see what happens or dropping objects from a height.
Physical milestones include pulling themselves up off the floor, walking with assistance and even speaking words in short phrases. Children at this age can also use their fingers more precisely, like pointing, turning book pages and mastering the “pincer grasp” (grabbing with thumb and index finger).
Click here to read more about 9-12 Month Old Developmental Milestones and Red Flags.