Choosing Appropriate Developmental Toys for Your Infant


      With thousands of toys for parents to choose from, it can be difficult to know what toys are appropriate for children at different developmental stages.

      The toys parents choose for their children are important as they contribute tolearning and development in a variety of ways that challenge their patterns ofmovement, cognitive skills, social skills and creativity.

      That is why health officials say the majority of learning anddevelopment at a young age comes from the availability of appropriate toys thatstimulate and challenge areas of physical, cognitive, social/emotional,language and self-help/adaptive skills.

      Questions parents should consider when selecting toys for their children include:

      • Is it safe?
      • Is it appropriate tothe developmental level of the child?
      • Is it durable?
      • Is it fun?
      • Will it stimulate mychild's imagination and senses?
      • Does it encouragephysical play?
      • Does the toy promoteplaying together that can build social skills and encourage interactions withfamily and friends?

      Developmental milestones to watch out for in infants from birth to 6 months include:

      • Tracking objects witheyes;
      • Grasping reflex ispresent;
      • Laying on tummy: raises head and chest while supporting weight on forearms;
      • Turning head to noise;
      • Rolling to both sides;
      • Looking at hands andbringing things to mouth;
      • Reaching for toys;
      • Shaking a rattle whenplaced in hand;
      • Smiling; and
      • Beginning to hold ownbottle.

      DevelopmentalMilestones to watch for in babies 7 months to a year include:

      Sitting withoutsupport and playing with both hands in sitting

      • Pulling self intostanding position;
      • Banging toys togetheror on table;
      • Clapping hands palm topalm;
      • Removing rings fromring stacker;
      • Taking toys out ofcontainer, putting toys in container;
      • Pulling pop beadsapart;
      • Pointing finger orpoking with finger;
      • Opening a book withhard cardboard pages, turning pages;
      • Stacking and knockingover toys as a game;
      • With supervision,picking up tiny objects (such as beans, cheerios, small beads) using indexfinger and thumb only; and
      • Feeding self fingerfoods.

      Toys that encourage development of these skills include:

      • Baby play gyms;
      • Musical light-up toys;
      • Rattles;
      • Teething ring;
      • Activity centers;
      • Toys on a string;
      • Playing patty-cake andpeek-a-boo;
      • Encouraging baby tohold own bottle/cup;
      • Give baby "tummy time";
      • Have baby imitate whatyou do with toys;
      • Picture books;
      • String beads withsupervision;
      • Puzzles with largepieces and wooden knobs;
      • Musical instruments:keyboards, drums, tambourines;
      • Play telephone;
      • Talking stuffedanimals;
      • Stacking toys;
      • Blocks of differentsizes, colors, textures;
      • Popbeads;
      • Ring Stack; and
      • Encourage child toself-feed finger foods.

      For more information or a list of more specific toy recommendations forbirth to 6 months, contact the Children's Rehab Center, 835 South Burlington in Hastings, at 402.463.2077or