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Types of Toys for Different Developmental Milestones

Types of Toys for Different Developmental Milestones

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily for children.
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I’ve heard parents express concerns about choosing the right toys for their child, but it’s important to remember that play is essential for their development. 

Toys help children learn new skills, explore their creativity, and develop their social and emotional intelligence. 

In this article, we’ll explore some ideas for types of toys that can support different developmental milestones.

Newborns (0–3 months)

  • High-contrast toys: These toys help newborns focus their vision, which is still developing. Look for toys in black and white or with bold patterns.

  • Rattles and crinkly toys: These toys make noise and have interesting textures, which can stimulate babies’ senses and allow them to connect their actions (shaking) with the result (sound).

  • Mobiles: Mobiles help babies develop their neck muscles and hand-eye coordination as they track the movement of objects.

According to a recent study, exposure to toys of diverse textures and sounds early on can enhance cognitive development later in life.

Infants (4–12 months)

  • Stacking cups and rings: These toys help babies develop their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

  • Shape sorters: Shape sorters help babies learn about shapes and colors, and they also help develop problem-solving skills.

  • Board books: Board books are a great way to introduce babies to language and literacy. Look for books with simple pictures and stories.
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Toddlers (1-3 years)

  • Push and pull toys: These toys help toddlers develop their gross motor skills and coordination. Research published in the National Library of Medicine suggests that active play improves cognitive function and academic performance later in life.

  • Blocks: Blocks are versatile toys that can be used for building, sorting, and imaginative play. Blocks don’t limit exploration or dictate how they should be used. This open-endedness fosters independent thinking, problem-solving, and experimentation.

  • Pretend play toys: Pretend play toys, such as dolls, cars, and kitchen sets, help toddlers learn about the world around them and develop their social and emotional skills.

Preschoolers (3-5 years)

  • Puzzles: Puzzles help preschoolers develop their problem-solving skills, fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.

  • Art supplies: Art supplies, such as crayons, paints, and playdough, help preschoolers express their creativity and develop their fine motor skills.

  • Board games: Board games are a fun way for preschoolers to learn about rules, take turns, and socialize with others.

School-age children (6–12 years)

  • Construction sets: Construction sets, such as Legos or K’Nex, help school-age children develop their problem-solving skills, spatial reasoning skills, and fine motor skills.

  • Science kits: Science kits allow school-age children to experiment and learn about the world around them.

  • Sports equipment: Sports equipment helps school-age children develop their gross motor skills, coordination, and teamwork skills. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily for children.
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Teens (13–18 years)

  • Musical instruments: Playing a musical instrument helps teens develop their creativity, fine motor skills, and discipline.

  • Art supplies: Art supplies help teens explore their identities, express themselves creatively, and manage their emotions. 

  • Board games: Board games provide a fun way for teenagers to socialize with friends and family, practice communication skills, and build relationships. 

Final thoughts on types of toys for different developmental milestones

While these suggestions offer a roadmap, remember that the most important factor is your child’s interests and needs. Observe their play, listen to their questions, and choose toys that spark their curiosity and encourage exploration.

Beyond Textbooks: Life Skills Every Teen Needs to Master Before Leaving Home

While academic knowledge is crucial, there’s a whole other set of essential skills teens need to master before venturing out on their own.

Read this article to explore them!

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