6 Key Development Toys Perfect for Playtime

Inspire toddlers and babies to be the writers, directors, and stage actors for their own show with toys that encourage development and growth.

Walk into any toy store and you will be overwhelmed by choices. The sights, sounds, and textures are enough to cause sensory overload. Discover these top ten types of toys for babies and toddlers and use toys to support their learning, development, and enjoyment of playtime.

Toys for Creating

There are no limits to the creativity a toddler possesses. Instead, the entire creative process is just that — a fun process. For toddlers, it does not matter whether body parts are glued in the right place or if colors are used appropriately. Being able to flex those creative muscles gives toddlers a more well-rounded view of themselves and those around them while helping make important connections in the brain.

Suggestions: Play-dough, finger paints, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, thick crayons, large chalk, construction paper, and chunky paintbrushes.

Toys for Solving Problems

Choosing toys for babies is different than choosing playthings for the older kids. When it comes to problem-solving, this is especially true. Give children the opportunity to figure things out on their own. This helps them understand how things fit together and to develop hand-eye coordination.

Suggestions: Dolls, shape sorters, nesting and stacking toys, activity centers, and blocks.

Toys That Develop Language

Young people need to experience language through print and through words; babies and toddlers develop imagination, empathy, attention, reading, and math skills through language. Make reading a part of your daily routine with children in the classroom by flipping through books, displaying words, and making up stories to go with pictures.

Suggestions: Board books, vinyl books, large picture books, books on tape, and books without words.

Toys to Spark Imagination

During the toddler years, children will develop the ability to play pretend. They will play the role of a police officer, astronaut, or doctor with toys that are often simple and readily available. All this imaginative play helps toddlers build language and literacy skills, as well as social skills and problem-solving skills.

Suggestions: Cardboard boxes, milk cartons, dress-up clothes, child-safe mirrors, trains, trucks, and dollhouses.

Toys for Large and Small Motor Skills

Babies and toddlers love to touch and explore the world around them. Small motor skills are used for things like cutting, lacing, and zipping, while large motor skills are used for activities such as hopping, climbing, and swinging. Toys that encourage these skills help build confidence and strength.

Suggestions for large motor skills: Child-size basketball hoop, balls, balance bike, gardening tools, ride-on toys, plastic bowling sets, and sheer scarves.

Suggestions for small motor skills: Lacing cards, dolls that have zippers and snaps, crayons, and child-proof scissors.

Toys for Imitation

Toddlers want to be big and capable like you. That is why they become very good at figuring out how things work, like the television remote and light switches. Toddlers also enjoy helping out, which builds problem-solving skills and confidence.

Suggestions: Child-size brooms, mops and vacuums, plastic telephone, musical instruments, plastic or wooden foods and dishes, small kitchen and tool bench

When thinking of toys, remember that less is often more. In other words, a few simple toys are sufficient. The most important thing is that each child has the opportunity to do what children do best— play!

If you are interested in training courses that explore topics like choosing the right toys for toddlers and babies, sign up for classes at Naptime Academy. Watch a single course or sign up for a year to earn your state-required clock hours of training. For more information, contact Naptime Academy at 877-918-7026.