With the holidays comes the challenge of finding age-appropriate toys for the infants and children in your lives. If you’re like most gift-givers, you want to find gifts for kids that don’t just provide fun but are also educational — or at least helpful when it comes to developing skills. Fortunately, a tremendous amount of research has been done to help you choose the perfect gift for kids of any age. Here’s a helpful guide to age-appropriate toys.
1. Infants-6 months old—Babies enjoy looking at people and bright colors. They are also learning about themselves, so they enjoy looking at their hands and feet. Developmentally, they can lift their heads, turn toward sounds, and put items in their mouths. Babies enjoy playing with toys that make noise, such as rattles or squeaking toys. Simple songs such as nursery rhymes and poems will also delight babies. Look for good rhyming books.
2. 7 months-1 year old—Babies at this age are on the move. Developmentally, they may be able to roll, sit, bounce, creep, and pull themselves up to standing. There are some who can even walk, especially approaching the one-year mark. At this point, babies start paying attention to people who call out their names, and they can understand short words. They can also find hidden objects and fill or empty containers. These babies will enjoy anything that moves. This way they can follow them. They love to put things places and then take them out, so give them some toys that involve placing things on top of or inside each other. Good toys at this age include busy boxes, push/pull toys, balls, blocks, interlocking rings, and shape sorters.
3. 1-2 year-olds—Children at this age are explorers. They enjoy discovering new surroundings and can usually walk where they want to go. Children enjoy toys they can manipulate physically or cognitively. For example, board books are great because they can interpret the illustrations in many different ways. Songs allow this age group to learn how to make up their own songs or stories. Pretend toys are also well received because they can use them to play out many different scenarios.
4. 2-3 year-olds—Toddlers want to test their physical capabilities. They like to play with toys that allow them to build, sort, and create things. They also enjoy balls to kick and throw. Equipment they can ride on, which can be pushed with their feet, is a good gift. Art supplies are fun because they can use bright colors to make designs.
5. 3-6 year-olds—Preschoolers and kindergarteners want to know as much as possible about the world and ask a lot of questions. At this age, they enjoy playing with other children. This age group enjoys playing with puzzles, blocks, art supplies, books, scooters, balance bikes, tunnels, a bat and ball, and interactive computer programs.
Reviewed by Dr. Eva Benmeleh, September 2020
- Infants to 6 months of age enjoy playing with toys that make noise and have textures.
- Toddlers want to see what they can do with their bodies, so they play with toys they can kick, throw, or push themselves on.
- Preschoolers and kindergarteners are learners, so anything they can use to expand their minds is what they want.