Young children grow up fast. The many stages of development they pass through from birth to early school years requires a lot of keeping up and finding new ways to stimulate their curiosity and satisfy their daily needs. As a parent, this duty is a tough but rewarding task. Your child will benefit greatly from the toys and tools within their immediate environment, which, in addition to your emotional support, will help shape their development. Here is a guide to go by for choosing play items that can have a positive effect on a child’s health and mental progress from 0 – 5 years of age.

Toys for Young Infants (0 – 6 Months)

Babies like to follow people with their eyes. Bright colours and faces capture attention at this age. Scientific reports on parenting tell us it is common for them to turn their head towards sound, and put things in their hands and mouth.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Toys to reach for, hold on to, suck on, shake, make noise with: baby rattles, shakers, rubber-edged shapes and soft balls (of a size too big to swallow).
  • Sounds to listen to: books with nursery rhymes and lullabies that will also ease them into a healthy sleeping pattern.
  • Items to look at: crib mobiles or playful interactive mirrors that make sounds when pressed or squeezed.

Toys for Older Infants (7 – 12 Months)

Older babies embrace their new-found mobility and have license to bounce, crawl, pull themselves up, and stand. As they grow, they begin to understand their own names, other common words, and objects. These types of toys are beneficial for strengthening larger muscles and joints in the body.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Toys to play pretend with: baby dolls, puppets, plastic and wood vehicles, such as choo-choo trains and wagons.
  • Items to drop and remove: plastic bowls, large beads, and bouncy balls.
  • Toys to build with: large soft blocks and wooden cubes as part of a set.

Toys for 1-Year- Olds

At this age, a child can walk steadily and climb stairs. They take in stories and begin to say their first words between the ages of 12-24 months. Around this time they also like to experiment in their close environment.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Board books with simple illustrations.
  • Photographs of real objects.
  • Recordings with songs, rhymes, or simple stories.
  • Items to create with: washable markers, crayons, and paper.

Stimulating a child’s cognitive skills helps them to make sense of their surroundings.

Toys for 2-year- olds (toddlers)

An age for learning language and doing a lot of physical testing such as jumping from heights, climbing, hanging by their arms, rolling, and rough-and-tumble play.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Toys for building: transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture kitchen sets, chairs, play food.
  • Items to create with: large paintbrushes and fingerpaint, chalkboard and large chalk, and musical instruments.
  • Pop-up books and picture books and with characters.

Encouraging a child to think for itself will increase mental agility and intuition.

Toys for 3- to 5-year- olds (preschool)

As a child’s attention span increases they start to talk more and ask questions. They begin to develop relationships with other children around them and can be held accountable for their actions.

Good learning and development toys include:

  • Toys for solving problems: 20+ piece puzzles, blocks that snap together, and small sorting objects.
  • Toys for pretending: dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, and puppet theatres.
  • Items for kicking and throwing/catching.
  • Ride-on equipment including tricycle.

Toys that are collectables, particularly stuffed dolls and animal families, inspire children to take up entertaining and kickstart their imagination to invent scenarios and play environments in which they spend time with their favourite items. Such toys are beneficial for strengthening an emotional bond and bringing out character and personality in a child.