So what are the best developmental toys for infants? Well, any age appropriate object that plays a role in expanding a child’s mind and developing his or her body will sit well in this category. It really is as simple as that.
Note that I say ‘object’ as opposed to ‘toy’ because in reality, an infant views anything and everything as a potential plaything. Ever given your baby a bemused look when they seem more interested in playing with brightly colored, crinkly wrapping paper as opposed to the goody inside? Well to them the wrapping paper IS the goody.
Your home is already full with some of the best developmental toys for infants; things like cardboard boxes, empty yogurt pots, milk jugs and plastic bottles.
They may not seem all that fanciful, but the educational value your child gets from playing with such items is extremely high. So don’t forget to include a few of these choice objects in baby’s play box.
In terms of the best shop bought toys for infants, I’ll break that down according age below.
Developmental Toys for Infants – 0 to 3 Month Olds
At this age babies aren’t particularly mobile and they don’t appear to do a great deal apart from eat, cry, sleep, smile, the other S word and look totally adorable… well maybe not when they’re all stinky pants.
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make here is that little babies aren’t at the stage where they can manipulate their physical environment in the same way an older child can.
They’re also limited in their visual range, only actually seeing things no more than 8-14 inches away from their faces. The best learning toys for babies at this age are things they can safely get up close and personal with.
As 0 to 3 month olds rely heavily on their senses (sight, sound, touch) to explore their world, toys that are bright or contrasting in color, play soothing sounds and are interestingly shaped make great developmental tools. Babies love faces too, so large pictures with faces on them or even mirrored toys will totally captivate them.
Also check out baby gyms and crib mobile toys – The Tiny Love Take Along Mobile is an extremely popular baby mobile which comes highly rated by parents. You’ll also love the fact that it’s fully portable so you can take and use it anywhere. Here’s Tiny Love in action:
Developmental Toys for Infants – 4 to 7 Month Olds
I totally love this age group. For me, this is when babies start to become really interesting. They’re more physically active and interactive, responding to their environment by reaching for, grabbing, pushing and grasping at objects.
Naturally 4 to 7 month olds are still very much in the oral fixation stage, but now they are more coordinated and can pick things up. It goes without saying that toys for these active tots need to be bigger than anything they can fit into their mouths.
Fun early learning toys for this age group would include anything brightly colored, textured, musical, chunky and easy to hold. Toys that can be rolled, pushed and pulled are also great for this age range.
Once again activity play mats or baby gyms would be a good choice, as would activity balls like this Clack and Slide Activity Ball. It’s has so many fun activities that will keep your baby totally engaged.
This Fisher Click & Learn Remote is also worth considering as it features brightly colored buttons that do neat stuff like play a song or phrase when pressed, plus much, much more.
Developmental Toys for Infants – 8 to 12 Month Olds
By this age, most babies are able to move themselves around the home by shuffling, scooting, crawling or walking. They can pull themselves up with relative ease and seem intent on exploring everything within their sights.
Hand to eye coordination really advances at this age, so things like first building blocks, stacking and shape sorting toys offer the best educational value. These are also great infant learning toys that introduce babies to the principles of cause and effect. You’ll find your child will love building something up only to knock all down again seconds later.
Another baby toy you might want to look at is this LeapFrog Learn & Groove Musical Table. It has around 15 different musical activities designed to advance language skills, encourage early reading and math development.
Other learning toys for babies between the ages of 8 to 12 months old include baby walkers like this VTech Sit to Stand Walker.
Video demo of the VTech Sit to Stand Walker:
Ultimately the best developmental toys for infants are those that stimulate your child’s brain and contribute to their physical growth.
The real key is to find toys at are appropriate for the age of your child, but don’t ignore the fact that some children develop at a faster pace than others. In these cases it really is about assessing how well you think they’ll cope with the toy and whether it’s safe toy for them.