Toys for every age
Little girl playing with toys

When shopping for toys for your children, look for items that aren't just age-appropriate and entertaining but also toys that will bolster their development and inspire their imagination and creativity.

Toys that teach

Based on child development research, the following guide will help in your selection of toys for various age groups. Some playthings are recommended for more than one age category, as children of different ages often enjoy the same toy, each playing with it at his or her own level.

Are you looking for developmentally appropriate toys for your child? There are certain milestones your kiddo is meeting as she ages and you will want to choose toys that help her grow socially as well as physically. We've broken down the recommendations based on your child's age and what she is doing at this point in her life. These types of toys will help entertain her the most — and help her develop.

Birth to 6 months old

Abilities and interests

Experts agree that even babies benefit from toys. Infants use their senses to learn about their world. For the first few months of life, babies are unable to grasp objects with their hands, but enjoy exploring with their ears and eyes. Therefore, toys that make noise or feature high-contrast, black-and-white or brightly colored images are especially appealing to newborns and young infants. Once infants can reach for objects, they enjoy toys that are textured and safe for mouthing. Remember, to avoid dangerous entanglement, toys never should be hung or attached to a crib, playpen, stroller, infant seat or around a child's neck with elastic, string or ribbon.

Toy suggestions

  • Crib gyms*
  • Floor gyms
  • Activity quilts
  • Mobiles*
  • Safety mirrors
  • Teething toys
  • Large, interlocking rings or keys
  • Cloth toys
  • Soft dolls
  • Stuffed animals (with short pile fabric)
  • Musical and chime toys
  • Rattles

* Remove when baby is 5 months old or is able to push up on hands and knees.

6 months to 1 year old

Abilities and interests

In the second half of the first year, infants master the motor skills that enable them to play with toys in new and exciting ways. When babies can sit up, they enjoy playthings they can manipulate — to bang, drop, stack up, put in and take out, and open and shut. Once they can crawl, "cruise" (walk while holding furniture) and walk, they enjoy things that move along with them. Toys that show cause and effect are also thrilling at this age.

Toy suggestions

  • Balls (1-3/4 inches and larger)
  • Push-pull toys
  • Busy boxes
  • Nesting and stacking toys
  • Simple shape sorters
  • Pop-up toys
  • Soft blocks
  • Bath toys
  • Teething toys
  • Large, interlocking rings or keys
  • Soft dolls
  • Stuffed animals (with short pile fabric)
  • Simple musical instruments
  • Rattles
  • Squeeze/squeak toys
  • Cloth and cardboard picture books

1 year to 2 years old

Abilities and interests

In the second year of life, children are explorers. Fueled by curiosity and wonder, toddlers also possess the physical skills that make it easy for them to play and learn. A busy toddler needs toys for physical play — walking, climbing, pushing and riding — and ones that encourage experimentation and manipulation. At this age, children imitate adults and enjoy props that help them master life skills.

Toy suggestions

  • Balls (1-3/4 inches and larger)
  • Push-pull toys
  • Ride-on toys (feet-propelled)
  • Wagons
  • Backyard gym equipment (infant swing, small slide, small climbing apparatus)
  • Nesting and stacking toys
  • Simple shape sorters
  • Pop-up toys
  • Blocks
  • Bath toys
  • Sandbox/sand toys
  • Wading pool/water toys
  • Puzzles with knobs (whole-object pieces)
  • Stuffed animals (with short pile fabric)
  • Dolls and baby gear
  • Play vehicles
  • Kitchen equipment and gadgets
  • Play household items (telephone, lawn mower, workbench, shopping cart)
  • Playhouse
  • Child-sized table and chairs
  • Non-toxic art supplies (large crayons and coloring books, clay, finger paints)
  • Musical instruments
  • Cardboard picture books, pop-up books

Next page: Toys for ages 3 to 9

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