Best Toys for 0-2 years old (Infants and Toddlers)
Toys for young infants—birth through 6 months
Babies like to look at people—following them with their eyes. Typically, they prefer faces and bright colors. Babies can reach, be fascinated with what their hands and feet can do, lift their heads, turn their heads toward sounds, put things in their mouths, and much more!
Good toys for young infants:
- Things they can reach for, hold, suck on, shake, make noise with—rattles, large rings, squeeze toys, teething toys, soft dolls, textured balls, and vinyl and board books
- Things to listen to—books with nursery rhymes and poems, and recordings of lullabies and simple songs
- Things to look at—pictures of faces hung so baby can see them and unbreakable mirrors
Toys for older infants—7 to 12 months
Older babies are movers—typically they go from rolling over and sitting, to scooting, bouncing, creeping, pulling themselves up, and standing. They understand their own names and other common words, can identify body parts, find hidden objects, and put things in and out of containers.
Good toys for older infants:
- Things to play pretend with—baby dolls, puppets, plastic and wood vehicles with wheels, and water toys
- Things to drop and take out—plastic bowls, large beads, balls, and nesting toys
- Things to build with—large soft blocks and wooden cubes
- Things to use their large muscles with—large balls, push and pull toys, and low, soft things to crawl over
Toys for 1-year-olds
One-year-olds are on the go! Typically they can walk steadily and even climb stairs. They enjoy stories, say their first words, and can play next to other children (but not yet with!). They like to experiment—but need adults to keep them safe.
Good toys for 1-year-olds:
- Board books with simple illustrations or photographs of real objects
- Recordings with songs, rhymes, simple stories, and pictures
- Things to create with—wide non-toxic, washable markers, crayons, and large paper
- Things to pretend with—toy phones, dolls and doll beds, baby carriages and strollers, dress-up accessories (scarves, purses), puppets, stuffed toys, plastic animals, and plastic and wood “realistic” vehicles
- Things to build with—cardboard and wood blocks (can be smaller than those used by infants—2 to 4 inches)
- Things for using their large and small muscles—puzzles, large pegboards, toys with parts that do things (dials, switches, knobs, lids), and large and small balls
Toys for 2-year-olds (toddlers)
Toddlers are rapidly learning language and have some sense of danger. Nevertheless they do a lot of physical “testing”: jumping from heights, climbing, hanging by their arms, rolling, and rough-and-tumble play. They have good control of their hands and fingers and like to do things with small objects.
Good toys for 2-year-olds:
- Things for solving problems—wood puzzles (with 4 to 12 pieces), blocks that snap together, objects to sort (by size, shape, color, smell), and things with hooks,
buttons, buckles, and snaps
- Things for pretending and building—blocks, smaller (and sturdy) transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture (kitchen sets, chairs, play food), dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets, and sand and water play toys
- Things to create with—large non-toxic, washable crayons and markers, large paintbrushes and fingerpaint, large paper for drawing and painting, colored construction paper, toddler-sized scissors with blunt tips, chalkboard and large chalk, and rhythm instruments
- Picture books with more details than books for younger children
- CD and DVD players with a variety of music (of course, phonograph players and cassette recorders work too!)
- Things for using their large and small muscles—large and small balls for kicking and throwing, ride-on equipment (but probably not tricycles until children are 3), tunnels, low climbers with soft material underneath, and pounding and hammering toys
Safety and children’s toys
Safe toys for young children are well-made (with no sharp parts or splinters and do not pinch); painted with nontoxic, lead-free paint; shatter-proof; and easily cleaned.
Electric toys should be “UL Approved.” Be sure to check the label, which should indicate that the toy has been approved by the Underwriters Laboratories. In addition, when choosing toys for children under age 3, make sure there are no small parts or pieces that could become lodged in a child’s throat and cause suffocation.