Looking for the right toy for that special child in your life? Looking for a toy for a specific age group? We've created a guide grounded in child development research to help. You'll notice that some toys are listed in more than one age category, although children might play with that toy differently as they get older. Suggested toys are adapted from Martha B. Bronson: The Right Stuff for Children Birth to Eight; Theodosia Sideropoulos Spewock & Jean Warren: Play with Purpose; and other sources.
Even the youngest of children can benefit from toys since toys help infants and babies begin to make sense of the world around them. Providing toys that stimulate your baby's senses of sight and sound are a good way to help your child grow. As your child becomes able to grasp objects, providing him or her with toys that have different textures will help them learn.
Six to Eight Weeks:
Four Months to Six Months:
This is the age when motor skills are exploding! Your child is learning to sit up and manipulate toys (banging, dropping, stacking, opening, shutting). As his or her physical exploration moves from crawling to cruising (walking while holding onto a walker or furniture) and eventually walking, your child will love things that move, too.
The world is opening up for a toddler -- and so comes the floodgate of emotions and behaviors. Your child will begin to express pleasure, protest and is developing his or her own personality. Your toddler is definitely an explorer, so give him or her ample opportunity and space to experiment and manipulate toys. You'll also want to keep them active! Toys that encourage movement will be a big hit.
Two-year-olds are full of energy and seem to learn new skills every day. You'll notice increased language development and that your child takes more of an interest in socializing with others. Provide opportunities for your child to MOVE and develop their gross motor skills, cognitive skills (your child can follow simple instructions now), and their social/emotional skills.
When your child turns three, you'll notice that he or she plays actively with others (be it his or her peers or -- you!). It is the age of imagination and role playing, so encourage make-believe by stocking toys that help with 'let's pretend.'
When it comes to development, four-year-olds are developing greater self-control and ingenuity. They also have a keen interest in trying new experiences. You'll notice your 4-year-old taking an interest in language (more complex sentences and identifying words/letters) and are even more curious than during their toddler phase!
Have you noticed your five-year-old asking "why" more often? That's because five-year-olds are very creative problem solvers and are becoming more analytical. Support their development with games that help hone their analytical skills, toys that keep them active and creative materials that help spark imagination.
This is the age of cognitive expansion (literally -- their brains are growing). Play helps elementary-aged children engage in goal-oriented activities and problem solving, as well as self-expression and creativity. You may also notice your older elementary-school aged child become engaged in 'collecting' certain prized items.
There are a few things we know for sure about kids. Every child is unique. Each grows and learns in his or her own special way. And pretty much all children love to play.
Kids with disabilities are no different, of course. Whether a child's disability is mild or severe, obvious or not, that child is first and foremost a kid, which he or means she will have the natural instinct to explore the world through play, just like any other child.
When it comes to birthdays and holidays and other special times, however, children with disabilities all too often find clothing or other 'safe' gifts waiting for them. Many times, grandparents, other relatives, and friends want to do something special for the child, but they just aren't sure what types of toys will be fun and usable. They don't want to take a chance on disappointing her with something that doesn't fit her abilities, something that ends up being more frustrating for the child than fun.
If you have a child with disabilities in your life for whom you would like to find just the right toy, several resources are available to help you:
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