Best Educational Toys for Infants and Toddlers
● By Hood Magazine
Sophie the Giraffe
With the vast amount of toys out there, it can be overwhelming to pick out what’s best for your child. A toy should benefit your little one in several different ways, and it should be something that can grow with your child. There are many developmental skills a child is expected to learn in the first few years of life. That’s why it is important to find educational toys that will help him or her in discovery and growth.
A baby gym can be used since birth and serves many different purposes. It encourages hand-eye coordination, depth perception, reaching, grasping, tummy play, and rolling. Attach toys with plastic links to hang them closer, encouraging baby to reach and grasp, and place toys at the side to encourage rolling. Unbreakable mirrors can be attached to the gym so baby can play with his or her reflection. It can also be used as motivation during tummy time. As your baby learns to crawl and sit up, he or she will continue to find uses for the gym.
Sophie the Giraffe is a teething toy that most moms will tell you is amazing. This rubber toy is easy for babies to hold, and they love to chew on her horns and legs. Sophie’s legs are perfect for reaching the back of the mouth as those molars are coming in. She also squeaks when squeezed and can be used during pretend play when your child gets older, making her an all-around great toy.
Small squeezable bath toys actually have several uses that make them great toys for baby. Bath toys work great instead of finger-puppets when performing for your newborn. Their bright colors and fun shapes, along with your excellent performance skills, help to engage your baby’s senses. As your baby gets older they will make good teething toys, and they can be used well past the first year as they learn to squeeze and squirt them. Bath toys can also be used for pretend play, making bath time more fun.
Board books are important to introduce early in a child’s life. They are hard to destroy and usually contain images with contrast that will catch baby’s attention. Board books can be used to encourage tummy time, and your baby can help turn the pages once they are able to sit. Books are a great learning tool at any age and will grow with your baby into his or her toddler years.
High chair suction toys help babies learn how to use something other than their mouths to play with toys. It forces them to use just their hands and develop hand-eye coordination, depth perception, and learn cause and effect. Skwish Stix has been nominated for 2014 Toy of the Year and is a great example of a suction toy.
Your little one will love fitting one object into another using nesting or stacking toys. Nesting cups have many uses that make them a great educational toy. They can fit together, be stacked, and even be used to pour. Taking them apart and putting them back together will build imagination.
As your child starts standing, a ball is a simple toy that will work motor skills. Just think of all the things you can do with a ball: bounce it, throw it, roll it, etc. It is definitely a toy that your child will grow with – from an infant trying to grip it and pick it up, to a toddler trying to throw it up and catch it.
Blocks are the ultimate creative toy. They use your child’s motor skills and imagination. They also grow with your child from when they start banging them together, to stacking them, to creating buildings and roads with them. They promote logical thinking, exploration, and problem-solving skills.
As your child approaches three, his or her creativity and imagination will soar. The best educational toys at this age are ones that encourage pretend play and build language and problem-solving skills. Action figures, stuffed animals, dolls, and trains or trucks are good examples of these. Cross-generational play is also very important. Talking with your child as they play; playing a game with them is more valuable than any toy alone. At 3 and 4 years old, it is not too early to play board games. There are specific games for that age range that will teach them how to be gracious winners and how to cope with losing. Think Hi Ho Cherry-O is a thing of the past? Think again!
It’s not always the newest, flashiest toys that are the best for your child. Sometimes the simple ones are the most educational. Watch out for toys that are full of buttons, lights, and music that seem to have no clear cause as your child is learning cause and effect. They may have many different functions, but the more the toy does, the less your child has to do, making it more entertaining than actually educational.