It is important to remember that certain toys are designed and developed for children at different ages and stages of their lives. As your little one ages, they will eventually grow out of certain toys that once brought them a lot of joy and fulfillment. When going through toys, it is also important to remember that children will develop at their own pace and keeping toys around based on your little one and their specific needs at the time, is very beneficial. In addition, we want to make sure that the toys they are playing with are safe and appropriate for them to use. Here are some guidelines for choosing toys that work for your child’s specific age and development:
- Young Infants
- In the first 6 months of life, babies might be physically limited, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy playing! Try keeping toys that will simply help to expanding their senses- provide them with something to feel (rattles, squeeze toys, and board books), see (pictures, bright colors, and unbreakable mirrors close to them), and hear (lullabies, nursery rhymes, and songs). And don’t forget that ever important tummy time!
- Older Infants
- From 6-12 months, babies start to really move. They will begin the process of sitting up, crawling, standing, and possibly walking! Get them moving with a bouncer or a walker once they are able to stand on their own. Babies love to mouth toys, so make sure toys at this age are not only developmentally appropriate, but safe!
- Toddlers at this age love to see the cause and effect of their actions. Provide them with toys that will show them that their actions will change something in their environment- when you put the ball in the hole it will fall through or when you bang the drum it will make noise. Repeating these actions over and over again will help engage their curiosity. This is also a great age to start introducing them to new concepts- a shape sorter will introduce colors and shapes, puzzles will help your child develop problem solving skills, and stacking cups or boxes works on hand-eye coordination and spatial perception.
- Play at this age has more meaning and imagination. Children start to imitate the actions of people around them. Two-year-old children love to play make-believe, so bring on the mini-shopping cart, baby stroller, and dress-up clothes. This is a great time to start including them in daily tasks- they will begin to watch you sweep up the kitchen or zip up a coat and will want to “help”. Your newly independent little one will watch and mimic your every action. Take advantage of the extra help while you can!
- This is a great age to start introducing educational toys that will help your little one with cognitive and language skills. Blocks and Lego’s will help with engineering and spatial understanding. Puzzles will challenge your child and improve their problem thinking skills. Books with words and detailed pictures will introduce your little one to new vocabulary, and computer/tablet games will give your little one an interactive opportunity to explore multiple different concepts at once.
While many people think that the more toys in the playroom means more options for children, research shows that children will engage more meaningfully with toys when there are less options. Their experience ends up being deeper and they will spend more time playing with each item when there are less to choose from. Instead of purging all of the toys you own, start to put toys on a rotation. You can keep some toys at eye-level for your little one to enjoy and the others will be kept up high or in storage for a few weeks. Then you can make a switch! You can change toys out completely or just a few items here or there. This will not only help your child engage more in what they are doing, but will also spark interest in a toy that may have previously been considered old news.
At Crème de la Crème, we rotate toys out with each theme to keep students engaged in learning. Each toy on our shelves is meant to be engaged with in a valuable way. When we are learning about insects, you might see bug toys in the classroom. When we are learning about My Family, you might see some dolls. Our curriculum will dictate what additional toys should be brought into the classroom in order to keep the toys relevant to a student’s learning.