Finding the right toy for your tot

In Baby’s early months, she may have been content to stay on her playmat, batting at dangling toys and fixating on blinking lights. Now that she is older, and that mat has been tucked away in a closet, you may be wondering how to transition into more age-appropriate toys that will keep her engaged.

What makes a good toy?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the best toys for Baby are those that are age and developmentally appropriate, and will promote learning and growth in all areas of development. Most toys come labeled with the age they’re recommended for, which can help guide purchases.

Some toys that will keep your toddler entertained while also putting her mind to work include:
  • Play kitchens: Toddlers love to imitate, and a play kitchen is a great toy to spark some imagination. Whether you’re looking for a basic design or something more extravagant, there are many models on the market to choose from. Adding some pots and pans along with a plate of plastic food will allow her to have a blast mimicking you as she “prepares” a meal – maybe even while you’re doing the same thing in the kitchen.
  • Mess-free art: Do you have a tot who’s into crafting, but thinks your entire home is a canvas? Look into some “tidy” alternatives, such as markers or stampers that only make their mark on the paper that’s included. This will allow Baby to find her inner Picasso without forcing you to find cleaning products to get the color off the walls.
  • Puzzles: Nothing makes a toddler feel more proud than solving a problem, and puzzles are a great way to get their minds working to reach that success. Wooden puzzles can be easier for toddlers to manipulate than cardboard, and some even come with sounds to cheer your kiddo on as she matches the right piece. In addition to encouraging problem-solving, puzzles also help with a toddler’s hand-eye coordination, as she will soon learn that the pieces need to fit correctly in their spots to complete the puzzle.
  • Picture books: Sure, Baby has a little ways to go before she can truly read a book, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start stocking her shelves. Look for picture books with bright images of early words. Bond with Baby by letting her sit on your lap, and by asking her to find the “ball” or “sun” on the page. This will help promote her developing vocabulary, and she may surprise you by identifying objects you weren’t aware she knew!
  • Active play: While educational toys are always a great bet for a toddler, it’s also important to remember the benefits of physical activity. Toys like ride-on vehicles, climbers, and slides are great choices for a toddler who craves action. Keeping active is essential to promote good health in your toddler, and burning off that energy will also help wear her out for bedtime. Remember, since her busy mind is always at work, rest will be vitally important to help her learn.

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