Choosing educational toys
How do you make sure the educational toy you buy is right for your child? Like everything, there are no guarantees with children. There are a couple of things to consider when selecting educational toys for children that can improve the chances that your choice will be well received. First, assess the stage of development your child is in. Select educational toys that target abilities and skills for that stage. An educational toy that is too advanced can cause frustration, and one that is too simple will not be challenging enough to warrant attention. Below is a general guide on what types of educational toys for children are best suited for developmental stages from newborn to 3 years of age. This is only intended as a guide to start thinking in the right direction. Use these guidelines and your knowledge of your child’s interests to help you make your educational toy purchases.
Newborn to 3 months: Babies can’t do much at this stage, but their senses are eager for stimulation. Educational toys for children with high-contrast patterns and bright colors will catch the attention of little ones. Babies can see color from birth, but have difficulty distinguishing between similar shades. Educational toys designed in bright and distinctly different colors like red, green, black, and white help babies differentiate between shapes and patterns. Babies spend a lot of time on their backs and sides at this age, making colorful music-playing mobiles a great educational toy option. Babies are fascinated by their reflection in safety mirrors. They are not able to recognize themselves, but the activity is a great visual stimulation. Baby gyms make great educational toys because of the variety of stimulation they offer. Baby gyms have bright colors, a variety of accessories with different shapes, textures, and sounds. Most gyms now play music and have lights too. These educational toy gyms require baby to pull, kick, or hit something to activate stimulus and help develop motor skills.
Suggested 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 will have better arm and leg movement. They usually grab onto anything they can get their hands on and put it right in their mouths. Educational toys like rattles promote motor development and provide sensory stimulation. Since everything ends up in the mouth, educational toys that are chewy or stuffed are favorites. Babies 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 typically have many buttons that produce sounds, lights, and provide a variety of textures to explore. Hand-eye coordination will improve as babies explore the activity center. Parents often move around more with babies at this age. Activity bars that attach to a stroller, car seat, or bouncy chair that have toys and squeaky dangling mirrors keep baby stimulated while on the move. Motor skills develop as baby reaches, hits, throws, and kicks the accessories on these educational toys.
Suggested toys for this age: Tummy Play Trainer, Curiosity Cube, Toe Time Infant Car Toy, Musical Arch ‘N Play, Jungle Pals Bow Stroller.
6 to 12 months: Your baby has much better control over the movement of his arms and legs. Between 9 and 10 months, your baby should be able to move in some way, whether it’s pulling, crawling, or gliding. By 12 months, they should be able to stand on their own and many will even start walking. Educational toys, including wooden blocks that your baby can stack and knock over, throw or bang to make noise, are good choices. At 12 months, educational wooden blocks can be used for early construction games to promote the development of motor skills, cause and effect, sensory and visual stimulation. Educational toys like the Edushape Sensory Ball provide great stimulation with different textures. Once babies learn to sit up, they will enjoy rolling a ball and trying to catch it while rolling it backwards. Letting your baby chase the ball will encourage movement. Trying to figure out why a square block doesn’t fit through a round opening will help develop problem-solving skills, although it can 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 order right. Now you will notice more interest in the books. Try to buy books that have pages with different textures and simple flaps. This will help develop your sense of touch.
Suggested toys for this age: Frog in the Box, Activity Cube, Farm Friends Stacker, Soft Books, Hug a Bug, Textured Blocks.
1 to 2 years: With each step, your baby becomes more independent and confident. Little ones this age spend every waking hour exploring and experimenting. For those who still walk a bit unsteady, educational toys that promote mobility, such as a walker or push cart, are great options. Pushchairs and carts are a great way for kids to carry things, another favorite activity at this age. Educational toys, including soft toys and dolls, are still a favorite at this age. Children often get very attached to one or two and use them in creative games. Young children can find many ways to make loud sounds. Musical instruments like drums, maracas, and tambourines are educational toys that will help them learn to appreciate music while making noise. Built-in puzzles require young children to pick up the pieces and find the correct places to put them back. These early puzzles enhance problem-solving skills and fine-tune motor skills. Puzzles are educational toys that your children will play with over and over again.
Suggested toys for this age: 4-in-1 Walker, Galt Wooden Baby Walker, Little Hands Music Band, Mini Edublocks, First Blocks, Baby Puzzles, Wooden Shaped Puzzles, First Puzzles.
2 to 3 years: Your toddler’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 attention for this age group. Educational toys that children use as props in pretend play help develop language and communication skills. Excellent educational toy options for this age group include character toys, puppets, dolls, toy vehicles, and animal figures. These educational toys encourage creativity and imagination by allowing your child to create wonderful adventures, model adult behavior, and role-play. Large piece puzzles are great educational toys for this age group. Children 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.
Suggested toys for this age: Table and chairs, stackable wooden train, airport blocks, Maggie’s friends, shaped puzzles, puzzles to play and learn.