How do you make sure the educational toy you buy is suitable for your child? As with everything there are no guarantees with children. There are a couple of things to consider when selecting children’s educational toys that can increase the chances that your choice is well received. First, consider the stage of development your child is in. Select the educational toys that target the skills and abilities for that stage. An educational toy that is too advanced can cause frustration, and one that is too simple won’t be challenging enough to warrant attention. Below is a general guideline for which types of children’s educational toys are best suited for developmental stages from newborn to age 3. This is just meant to be a guide to start thinking in the right direction. Use these guidelines and your knowledge of your child’s interests to help you shop for educational toys.
Newborn at 3 months: Babies can’t do much at this stage, but their senses are eager for stimulation. Children’s educational toys with high contrast patterns and bright colors will catch the attention of the little ones. Babies can see color from birth but have a hard time distinguishing between similar tones. Educational toys designed in bright and distinctly different colors such as red, green, black and white help children differentiate shapes and patterns. Babies spend a lot of time on their backs and hips at this age, making colorful cellphones that play music a great choice of educational toys. Children are fascinated by their reflection in the safety mirrors. They are unable to recognize themselves but the activity is a great visual stimulation. Children’s gyms are excellent educational toys for the variety of stimuli they offer. Children’s gyms have bright colors, a variety of accessories with different shapes, textures and sounds. Most gyms now play music and also have lights. These educational toy gyms require the child to pull, kick or tap something to trigger the stimulus that helps develop fine motor skills.
Recommended toys for this age: Galt Paynest and Gym, Busy Bear Mirror, 2 in 1 Smart Gym, Farm Friends Mobile, Jumbo Gym and Farm Linkies.
3 to 6 months: During this stage your baby will gain better head control and have better arm and leg movement. They typically cling to anything they can get their hands on and put it directly into their mouth. Educational toys such as rattles promote motor development and provide sensory stimulation. Since it all ends up in the mouth, educational toys that are chewable or soft plush are a favorite. Children need to experiment with different textures, so vary the materials that educational toys are made of. Activity centers provide a lot of stimulation at this age. These educational toys normally have many buttons that produce sounds, lights and give a variety of textures to explore. Hand-eye coordination will improve as children explore the activity center. Parents are often more on the go with children at this age. Activity bars that fit a stroller, car seat, or inflatable chair with dangling and squeaking games and mirrors keep baby stimulated while on the move. Motor skills develop as the child reaches, hits, pulls and kicks the accessories of these educational toys.
Recommended toys for this age: Tummy Play Trainer, Curiosity Cube, Toe Time Car Toy, Musical Arch ‘N Play, Jungle Pals Stroller Arch.
6 to 12 months: Your baby has much better control over arm and leg movements. By 9-10 months, your baby should be able to move in some way: by pulling, crawling or kicking. By 12 months they should be able to stand on their own and many will even start walking. Educational toys, including wooden blocks that the child can stack and knock down, throw or slam together to make noise, are good choices. Within 12 months, the educational wooden blocks can be used for the first construction games to promote the development of motor skills, cause and effect, sensory and visual stimulation. Educational toys like Edushape’s Sensory Ball provide great stimulation with different textures. Once children learn to sit, they will enjoy rolling a ball and trying to catch it as you roll it back. Letting your toddler chase the ball will encourage movement. Trying to understand why a square block doesn’t fit through a round opening will help develop problem-solving skills, although it might cause some frustration at first. By the time your baby is 12 months old, he will start to enjoy stacking activities, although he will need help trying to get the right order. Now you will notice a greater interest in books. Try to buy books that have pages with different textures and simple flaps. This will help develop their sense of touch.
Recommended toys for this age: Frog in the Box, Activity Cube, Farm Friends Stacker, Soft Books, Hug an Insect, Textured Blocks.
1 to 2 years: With each step your baby becomes more independent and confident. Little ones of this age spend every waking hour exploring and experimenting. For those who are still walking a little unstable, educational toys that promote mobility such as a walker or push car are a great choice. Hand carts and carts are a great way for kids to carry things around – another favorite activity at this age. Educational toys, including soft stuffed animals and dolls, remain a favorite at this age. Children often get very attached to one or two and use them in creative play. Young children can find many ways to make loud sounds. Musical instruments such as drums, maracas, and tambourines are educational toys that will help them learn to appreciate music while making noise. Insert puzzles require children to take out the pieces and find the right places to put them back. These early puzzles improve problematic skills and refine fine motor skills. Puzzles are educational toys that your kids will play with over and over again.
Recommended toys for this age: 4 in 1 baby walker, Galt wooden walker, marching band with little hands, Edublock mini blocks, first blocks, children’s puzzles, wooden puzzles, first puzzles.
2 to 3 years: Your baby’s motor skills are now well developed. They can run, jump and climb. The area of explosive development at this stage is speech and language. Imaginative play becomes the focus of this age group. Educational toys that children use as props in pretend play help develop language and communication skills. Great educational toy choices for this age include characters, puppets, dolls, toy vehicles, and animal figures. These educational toys promote creativity and imagination by allowing your child to create wonderful adventures, model adult behavior and role play. Large puzzles are great educational toys for this age. Children of this age should be able to complete a 4 to 6 piece puzzle on their own. Puzzles are a great activity for developing hand-eye coordination, problem solving, and fine motor skills.
Recommended toys for this age: Table and chairs, stackable wooden train, airport blocks, Maggie’s friends, shaped puzzle, puzzle play and learn.
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