A pediatric therapy company operating in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. We provide physical, occupational, speech and aquatic therapy services in the most beneficial and convenient setting for you and your child, including our clinic, currently located in San Mateo, your home, school or daycare.
There is an overwhelming amount of choices in the toy stores these days and we live in a time where digital and electronic games are increasingly being used to replace physical toys. Should we be buying toys marketed as educational? What should our developing children be playing with? As physical therapists, we get asked a lot about what toys and items that can be used at home to encourage certain developmental skills.
Here are some general guidelines to follow!
Toys for Infants
-Young babies (under 6 months) will like and benefit from simple toys that they can reach for, touch, or easily grasp. Toys that move or make a noise with a small amount of effort will encourage them to continue to move and get the desired effect. Some examples include rattles, mobiles with items that hang down overhead and can be reached for or kicked, and squeeze toys.
-Young babies will also like to look at faces, pictures in books and will enjoy looking in the mirror. They can be shown pictures of family members or an unbreakable mirror can be set up for tummy time play.
-Older babies (6-12 months) will benefit from toys that encourage movement, change of position and exploration. Some examples we love are simple, such as stacking cups, soft blocks, and ring stacking toys. This is a great age to introduce balls as well as push and pull toys. And of course, books! Books facilitate interaction between adults and babies, but also older babies can develop their motor skills by starting to open and turn the pages themselves when they happen to be lying around the floor.
Toys for Toddlers (1-3 years)
-Get ready for the mess! Toddlers need to create things and will benefit from the opportunity to color and paint. Playdough and kinetic sand are also great activities that encourage muscle development in addition to creativity once you move past the mouthing phase.
-Toddlers will benefit from toys that allow them to engage in pretend play such as dolls, animal figures, kitchen/food items, and cars.
-Building and putting things together is another exciting activity for toddlers. Magna-tilesand Lincoln Logs are just a couple of ideas that will continue to excite your child as they get older also.
-It’s not too early to introduce toys that will get your child moving such as ride-ons, tricycles, and balance bikes.
Toys for the Preschool/Kindergarten Age (3-6 years)
-Encourage problem solving with puzzles that now have more pieces, Legos, and construction sets.
-Sports items and bicycles are easy ways to encourage movement and motor skill development. Sidewalk chalk is fun and can be used to create a hopscotch course.
-Children in this age group will still benefit from plenty of opportunities to be creative using art supplies and musical instruments.
As you can see a common theme across the age groups is that the toys are simple and encourage problem solving, pretend play, building, creativity and movement. What is even better is that they will spark interactions to occur between the child and parent or the child and his or her siblings and peers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published an article that discusses this topic in more detail. They offer an advice section which encourages parents to recognize that the most important purpose of play with toys is not to be educational but instead to facilitate social interactions and relationships. Read the article and visit the links below for more advice on toy selection, screen time, and more!