Compiled and written by Brittni Barnes, OTR/L & Teresa Hans, OTR/L
Ever wanted to know what toys therapists LOVE for different developmental stages?
Progressive Pediatric Therapy staff have compiled a list for the different ages and stages to foster development! Check out our favorite toys for infants and toddlers! These toys are ideal for children aged birth to 2 years old.
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- Stack Up Cup Toys: This toy is versatile and can be used to foster language, fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Your baby/toddler can work on language concepts such as “Up/Down” “big/small”. They also can be used for grasping and releasing. Place them around the room and have your toddler crawl for them.
- Indestructibles Books: We love this series of books that is made with babies in mind. They will not rip and are safe when baby puts in their mouth.
- Wooden Musical Piano: We recommend this toy because it can facilitate speech, occupational, and physical therapy goals. You can have this toy help learn the colors, cause and effect, sitting and so much more!
- ezpz Mini Mat: Bowls are not just for eating, Stephanie one of our SLPA says that these mats are important for “Safest feeding and developmentally appropriate products for all children. Great for pretend play too.”
- Soft Blocks: We love these soft blocks because they are great for reaching, grasping and once your child gets a little older throwing and catching.
- Spin and Sing: Occupational therapist Sofia suggests this light up spinning toy, it is great for tummy time and for reaching while in a sitting position. Also great for eye hand coordination and cause and effect.
- Interactive Ball: This interactive ball makes tummy time fun! Great for your child to work at looking to the side and reaching.
- Taggies: Grab your babies attention with these crinkly little blankets! Babies can hold them easily in their hands and start learning about cause and effect (I moved my hand and this toy made noise.)
- Whirly Squigz: These are designed for young hands to be able to move and manipulate. When you stick to a wall or vertical surface, the suction will last for a couple of minutes. This is a great item for encouraging individuals to work on their fine motor skills by manipulating the spinner.
- Shape Sorter: The shape sorter is a toy that Brittini an Occupational Therapist feels like every home should have. “Shape sorters are great for both babies and toddlers, babies can start to grasp the large shapes and place them in the open container. As they get better you can have them start putting them into the same shaped holes! Such a versatile toy.”
- Little People: Little people are great across the ages for infants they are a large size that will work on grasping and releasing, as the child gets older they will facilitate pretend play. You can use them for language concepts as they come in a variety of animals and themes.
- Tunnel: Use this tunnel to set up obstacle courses inside or outside! Can also be used for children to go into for a sensory break. No more boring rainy days when your kids have a tunnel to get them moving!
- Knob Puzzle: Start playing with puzzles with these large knobbed ones. The large knobs are great for little hands and the pieces fit into the board!
Occupational Therapist Callie gave us a fun activity to share with a tunnel and knob puzzle! “Place single puzzle piece at one end of tunnel and puzzle at other end. Child takes puzzle piece and holds while crawling through tunnel, then places it into the correct spot in the puzzle. Repeat till puzzle is complete! For additional challenge, try having child bear crawl (walk on hands and feet) to get back to the start of the tunnel or wheelbarrow walk (walk on hands while parent holds legs suspended in the air).”
- Mega Blocks: Mega Blocks are a great first building toy, they can be used for babies when they are learning how to push and pull apart and grasp and release (such a great size for this). As the baby grows to a toddler they are great for building simple towers, color and size sorting.
- Peanut Ball: This is a great toy for all ages as they come in different sizes. They are great for balance and co-ordination training, strengthening, gross motor and proprioceptive activities.
- Tummy Time Mirror: A tummy time mirror is great to help increase the length your baby is lying on their belly. Babies love looking at themselves! You can also move the mirror around so your baby is moving their head and their eyes to track for the mirror.
- Spin Again Toy: This toy is such a fun way to work on your babies sitting and control while reaching for items! This is similar to a simple stacking ring tower but so much more fun with the visual of the gears, your baby, toddler and older kids will love this toy.
- Slide with Basketball hoop: This is a great toy for toddlers! They will work on problem solving, “How do I climb those steps?” Cause and effect, I climber up now I get to slide down! Motivational for throwing and making it into the hoop. The possibilities for the slide are endless.