Tis the season

With Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa quickly approaching, you may be shopping for the little ones on your list.  As I have mentioned in a former post, toys are not everything.  And they shouldn’t be.  The best toys are those that promote interaction.  When interacting during play, a child is communicating, even if he is just tapping your leg to continue the activity.  He will also practice social emotional skills such as sharing, or experience various feelings such as joy, suspense, and boredom, all of which are accompanied by body behavior, and you can bet he will pick up on that!  Children also build their imagination during play which encourages turn taking, sharing, role playing, and more.  When you are shopping for toys, it may be easy to pick a toy that gives you some “me time” which is definitely needed at times.  But overall, choose toys that do both – enable you to take part in your child’s imagination while allowing room for independence.

Below is a guide to my favorite toys, grouped by age, from 0-3 years.
You will see books for every age, and some toys overlap age ranges.  Toys that grow with a child are great because a. it saves money and b. less toys=more floor space/less cleanup!

Toys that are good for any age:
Picture Album: include family members, pets, and pictures of baby!
Stacking Blocks, Nesting Toys, Legos

0-6 Months
Books:  Baby Touch and Feel: Animals – or any of book from this line.  Each page shows one simple picture on a blank background, usually with some type of material to feel.  Run babys fingers over the pages and tell her what you see.
Black & White – A tummy time spectacular!  Each page is contrasting black and white images, perfect for infant’s developing eyesight.  It folds out, accordian style.  Open it up, stretch it all out, and stand it in front of baby during tummy time.  All your tummy time problems solved (haha).

Toys: Babes at this age are taking in their world.  They are exploring with their eyes, ears, hands, and mouths!  Look for toys that are easy for their little hands to hold and safe to mouth (but not small enough to put IN their mouth). Some favorites are Crinkle Teethers, Floor Mirror, and the famous Sophie or mini Sophie

6-12 Months
Books: Books with flaps or windows.  The classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear has a great “slide and find” option.

Toys: Containers! Anything with containers!  This age loves to put things in other things, and take the things out of the things.  Think sorting bins, shopping baskets with fake food, or a building blocks that come with a storage container like Duplos from Lego or Mega Bloks.

Also, push toys and activity cubes will encourage motor activity as baby begins to pull himself up and take steps.

1-2 Years
Books:  Books that ask questions or encourage baby to interact such as Where’s Spot and Where is Baby’s Belly Button?  As well as books that have repetitive phrases.

Toys: More containers (see above, ages 6-12months), as children will forever like doing this.  Musical instruments are a great gift, and it works on their fine motor skills.  This simple piano is perfect and this doguitar is hilarious.

2-3 Years
Books: As long as it’s not bedtime, books that involve acting out parts are great for this age.  We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and My Many Colored Days (a Dr. Seuss I bet you didn’t know about!)

Toys: Imaginary Play!  These toddlers are starting to model the daily routines they see, that means YOU!  Kitchen sets, tool kits, baby dolls, and stuffed animals are the way to go. Also, puzzles.

I hope this guide makes your shopping a little easier!

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