Being a new parent can be tough. Between getting your baby on the right sleep schedule, figuring out which foods they’ll eat (or won’t eat), trying to make sure they get enough social interaction, and a million other things, it can be a little overwhelming at times. The last thing you should have to worry about is what the best developmental toys to get your baby are. Little Tikes is here to help! Check out our list of best developmental toys (and a few handy ideas of what skills they can help your baby develop):
Visual Tracking Toys
Before they begin to crawl and move, many infants need to develop their eyesight, visual tracking, and other ocular skills. Toys with movement, like the Little Baby Bum™ Wigglin’ Wheels on the Bus, are ideal because they’re easier for babies’ developing eyes to see and track.
One of the first developmental skills that parents of babies focus in on is crawling. Crawling is the essential first step (metaphorically speaking) that infants take towards walking. We generally recommend two types of toys for parents who want to encourage their infants to crawl: activity centers like the Activity Garden™ and toys that roll like the Wooden Critters™ Unicorn Pull Toy. An important part of getting babies to crawl is sparking their curiosity. If infants see something they want to touch and explore, it encourages them to move. Initially, they’ll shimmy a little on their bellies, but with time and practice they’ll soon learn to crawl!
As babies begin to move and explore the world around them, balance becomes an important early skill for them to develop. Whether they’re crawling, sitting, standing, or running, babies need to be able to control their center of gravity in order to move about on their own. We recommend the Wooden Critters™ Dino Balancing Toy, that’s also helpful in developing infants’ finger dexterity, and the Little Baby Bum™ Wheels on the Bus Scoot as two different ways for your kids to develop their balance. Kids learn to crawl, sit, stand, walk, and run at a wide range of ages, so the important thing is that your baby just keeps trying!
Sorting and Stacking Toys
Once infants are able to sit, they’re increasingly eager to explore the world. This is the perfect time to introduce them to sorting and shape stacking toys like the Wooden Critters™ Unicorn Shape Stacker or Llama-corn Number Puzzle. Sorting and stacking toys help introduce kids to the foundational concepts behind math, shape recognition, problem solving, and other preschool concepts. Oh, and they’re so cute too!
Skills like cause and effect, recognition, and object permanence are essential to your baby’s ability to understand the world around them. Cause and effect in particular are important because it helps babies recognize that their actions have an impact on the world around them. We recommend toys like the Wooden Critters™ Dino Busy Beads or Little Baby Bum™ Twinkle Plush to help your baby develop their understanding of cause and effect.
As your infant begins to move about, they’ll want to explore and touch everything they can get their little hands on. Helping them develop their finger dexterity is increasingly important at this stage in their development. That’s why we recommend toys with lots of little knobs and switches, like the Activity Garden™ or Wooden Critters™ Dino Pull Toy, for them to play with and explore.
Great Toys for Infants Learning to Stand
If your baby is already crawling and sitting like a champ, their next step is learning to stand. Standing requires improved balance over sitting and crawling, so we generally recommend toys that help infants develop their balance and give them the chance to support themselves when they wobble. The 3-in-1 Activity Walker is perfect because it’s a sturdy activity table for kids learning to stand that transforms into a walker when they’re ready to walk with support. If your baby loves Little Baby Bum™ videos, we also have Twinkle’s Musical Walker that can help them learn to stand and walk to the beat of their favorite Little Baby Bum™ nursery rhymes!
Toys That Help Infants Practice Walking and Running
As we mentioned above, the 3-in-1 Activity Walker is the perfect toy to help your baby learn to stand, walk, run, and develop their gross motor skills as they grow. Once your infant is able to walk or run without support, try giving them a pull toy like the Wooden Critters™ Llama-corn Pull Toy to help them further improve their balance. Pull toys are a great way to see how stable your toddler is because they require kids to adjust their center of gravity as they pull the toy behind them. This is especially important as they learn to transition from walking into running. Ride-on toys like the Cozy Coupe® are another excellent way for kids to develop their gross motor skills while they play. Kids can improve their balance by pushing their Cozy Coupe from behind like a walker, or build their muscle strength by sitting inside it and scooting themselves around.
Vibrant Toys That Help Kids Understand Color Recognition
Once your toddlers begin to babble and speak, parents are often eager to teach their kids about numbers and colors. We at Little Tikes love filling the world with vibrant colors (check out our awesome Wooden Critters and Little Baby Bum toys), and you can turn any of these great toys into a learning game by asking your toddler to identify the different colors on their favorite toys.
Social-Emotional growth is essential for kids as they prepare for preschool and kindergarten. Being able to interact with other kids (and, of course, their teachers) in social situations is vital for your kids’ overall development. While a good portion of their social-emotional growth will happen once they’re away at preschool or kindergarten, it can be very helpful to give your kids a head start. Role Play toys like the Tasty Jr.™ Bake ‘n Share™ Kitchen encourage kids to role play and socialize with others while they do. Role play can even help kids understand different points of view and practice empathy!
Toys That Help Kids Practice Counting
As your toddler gets ready for preschool, you’ll want to practice counting with them and introduce them to the basic concepts behind math. Toys like the Wooden Critters™ Unicorn Number Puzzle, with its numbered puzzle pieces, or the Little Baby Bum™ Wheels on the Bus Climber, which has the numbers one through ten written across its surface, help familiarize your kids with numbers while they play. Try singing your favorite counting song, like Five Little Ducks, as you play together and having your kids point out the numbers as they sing.
Go out there and start exploring the world with your kids and their favorite developmental toys! Make sure to snap a picture of your kids, and don’t forget to tag us (@OfficialLittleTikes on Instagram, @LittleTikes everywhere else on social media)!
For 50 years Little Tikes has been a parent-trusted brand making kids toys that last. Looking for more great active play ideas? Check out www.LittleTikes.com for all our latest play tips & tricks!