How to Choose the Right Toys for Your Child's Age and Developmental Stage

Choosing the right toys for your child can seem overwhelming, with so many options available. The key is to select toys that are both fun and appropriate for your child's age and stage of development. With some guidance, you can easily find toys that will engage and delight children from infancy through the elementary school years.

Infant Toys (0-12 months)

In the first few months of life, infants are unable to play with toys in the traditional sense. However, providing stimulating objects promotes brain development and hones their emerging skills. The best infant toys have high contrast colors and patterns, activate the senses, and encourage infant-parent interaction.

1. Brightly Colored Toys

From birth to 3 months, an infant's vision is blurry. High contrast black and white or brightly colored red, yellow and blue toys are easiest for them to focus on and track with their eyes. Opt for patterned toys, activity gyms, and mobiles with simple designs in these colors.

2. Rattles and Teethers

Around 3 to 6 months, babies begin reaching for and grasping objects. Rattles and plastic teething keys with varied shapes, colors, and textures promote hand-eye coordination. The rattling sound when shook also stimulates hearing. Look for rattles with handles sized for a baby's small hands.

3. Mirrors

Unbreakable baby mirrors fascinate infants around 3 months when they begin to recognize their reflection. Mirrors help babies learn about facial expressions and develop self-awareness. Get a mirror with a soft frame that's easy for little hands to grasp.

4. Activity Boards and Playmats

Around 5 to 6 months, babies gain head control and can reach for dangling toys above them. Playmats and activity boards or gyms with crinkly textures, lights, music, and links for attaching toys engage visual, auditory, tactile, and motor skills. Babies bat at the toys, learning cause-and-effect.

1 Year Old Toys

As babies become toddlers, they grow more mobile and coordinated. The best toys for 1 year olds allow them to refine fine and gross motor skills, problem solve, and explore their burgeoning independence.

1. Shape Sorters

Shape sorters challenge hand-eye coordination as toddlers fit shapes through matching holes. Sorting enhances cognitive skills like object recognition, spatial awareness, and categorization. Look for sorters with knobs sized for little hands and shapes like circles, squares, hearts, and stars.

2. Stacking Toys

Stacking cups, rings, and blocks boost manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, and balance. Start with 2-3 piece sets to learn sequencing and increase the challenge as their skills improve. Cheer them on as they master building a tower and then joyfully knock it down!

3. Balls

Whether rolled, tossed, or kicked, balls encourage gross motor skills and coordination. At this age, choose lightweight, soft, textured balls sized for small hands. Ball pits or popper toys add more engaging play. Supervise play to avoid choking hazards with deflated balls.

4. Board Books

Simple, sturdy board books introduce toddlers to printed content. Look for books with familiar objects like balls, blocks, animals, or vehicles identified by name to build vocabulary. Die-cut or textured books add sensory stimulation. Reading together promotes parent-child bonding.

5. Pounding Toys

Toys that make noise with the tap of a mallet or push of a button excite toddlers. Pounding promotes hand-eye coordination and cause-and-effect learning. Look for toys made of sturdy materials that can withstand rough play. Supervise play to avoid nuisance noise levels.

2-3 Year Old Toys

The preschool years bring rapid intellectual, emotional, and physical development. Toys for 2 and 3 year olds allow for more interactive play and imagination. Kids this age still put many things directly in their mouths. Be sure all toys are non toxic and sized so they cannot cause choking.

1. Pretend Play Toys

Pretend play emerges around age 2 as creativity and imagination grow. Provide props like toy phones, kitchen sets, tool benches, and play food so they can role play everyday activities. Dollhouses, cars and garages, and train sets also spur imaginative play.

2. Puzzles

Puzzles boost spatial reasoning, dexterity, and persistence. Choose knobbed puzzles with 2-6 chunky pieces for beginners. Wooden puzzles allow for easier manipulation than cardboard. You can also look for puzzles with themes based on their interests.

3. Blocks

Building with blocks encourages open-ended creativity, math skills, and spatial awareness. Large wooden blocks are best for this age. Look for blocks in a range of shapes like squares, rectangles, arches, and triangles. Building up and knocking down constructions is endlessly entertaining!

4-5 Year Old Toys

Preschoolers are increasingly independent with more complex reasoning skills. The best toys for 4 and 5 year olds offer opportunities for learning, cooperation, and developing dexterity. Kids also begin understanding and following game rules at this age.

1. Art Supplies

Art supplies open unlimited avenues for self-expression and exploration. Provide washable, nontoxic paints, markers, modeling clay, craft kits and more. Display their creations proudly! Art teaches fine motor skills, color and shape recognition, and boosts self esteem.

2. Board Games

Playing games with a few rules fosters math understanding, taking turns, sportsmanship and patience. Classic starter games like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders build cooperation. Avoid games that eliminate players to prevent hurt feelings. Playing together strengthens family bonds.

3. Music Toys

Budding musicality emerges at this age. Offer musical instruments like xylophones, rain sticks, and drums to explore rhythms, melody, and sound production. Toy microphones and karaoke machines encourage movement and performance. Making music together helps develop listening skills.

4. Construction Toys

Building kits like magnetic tiles, Legos, and Lincoln Logs allow young engineers to bring their imaginations to life by constructing buildings, vehicles, animals and more. Look for toys with interchangeable parts to create multiple constructions. Building flexibility, planning, and fine motor skills.

5. Puzzles

Preschoolers can tackle more complex puzzles with up to 30-50 pieces in unique shapes. Look for puzzles related to their interests like vehicles, animals, or characters from books or shows they enjoy. Puzzles build concentration, planning, and problem solving.

6-7 Year Old Toys

Kids this age are expending their mental capabilities and physical skills. The best toys for 6 and 7 year olds capture their curiosity about the wider world and thirst for independence. Play encourages cooperation, communication, and new interests.

1. Science Kits

Science kits nurture budding scientific curiosity as kids conduct experiments like growing crystals, erupting volcanoes, or watching caterpillars transform into butterflies. Look for kits tailored to their skill level with safe materials. Supervise to avoid messes and teach scientific principles.

2. Arts and Crafts

Endless creativity blossoms with art supplies like weaving, jewelry making kits, paper crafts like origami, beadwork, sculpting clay and more. Display their artworks prominently. Crafts build fine motor dexterity, planning skills, and self-confidence.

3. Building Toys

Construction toys like Lego, K'nex, and Magna-Tiles satisfy their appetite for building. Look for toys allowing freeform creativity or model building to follow diagram instructions. Building cultivates spatial skills, math concepts, design skills and patience to follow multi-step plans.

Toys for Ages 8+

Older kids express increasing independence in play. The best toys for ages 8 and up allow them to explore individual interests, compete positively with peers, and gain competence. Some classic toys hold enduring appeal for free play.

1. Art Supplies

Foster older kids’ creative bug with grown-up art supplies like calligraphy pens, paintbrushes, clay sculpting tools, jewelry pliers, woodburning kits or sewing machines. Technical tools satisfy their desire for precision. Displaying creations boosts confidence.

2. Strategy Games

Classic strategy board games like chess, checkers, Othello, and Mahjong challenge kids to think ahead. Card games like Uno, Skip-Bo, and traditional playing cards offer different levels of complexity. Playing together teaches fair competition, patience, and handling emotions.

The Benefits of Age-Appropriate Toys

The right toys make childhood magical. When matched with their evolving capabilities, toys help kids explore interests, learn life skills, grow more coordinated and confident, and forge deeper connections with family and friends. Pay attention to age guidelines and toy safety. Shop smartly and let their development and passions guide the best toy choices!

Toy Renting - A Smart Way to Find the Right Toys

Struggling to find toys your child will enjoy without breaking the bank? Can't deal with the clutter of forgotten toys? Want more eco-friendly options? Toy renting services like The Elefant offer smart solutions!

Renting toys allows you to conveniently access a wide variety of age-appropriate toys without accumulating piles of unused plastic clutter. Here are some of the benefits of toy rental services:

  1. Lower Cost: When you rent instead of buy, you spend a fraction of the cost to enjoy quality toys. No money wasted on toys your child quickly discards. Renting is budget friendly!
  2. Less Clutter: Most parents struggle with excess toys. Renting toys helps reduce clutter since you continually cycle through options without accumulation. With fewer toys at once, it's easier to keep play spaces organized.
  3. Variety: At rental services, swap out toys as your child's skills and interests evolve. With almost unlimited choices, your child will never get bored! Discover unique wood, eco-friendly or educational options you may otherwise never find.
  4. Safety: Reputable rental companies thoroughly clean and sanitize toys between uses. You can feel confident providing safe playthings for your little one. No worries about previous wear and tear.
  5. Eco-Friendly: Renting is sustainable! Fewer toys purchased reduces plastic waste. Your child enjoys more toys over time while minimizing environmental impact. Renting is the greener choice!
  6. Convenience: No time wasted shopping with a great selection readily available for delivery. Easy online ordering and shipping lets you swap toys from the comfort of home. Changes keep play exciting!
  7. Flexibility: With short term rentals rather than big purchases, it's easy to try out toys to see what engages your child. Don't get stuck with toys they won't use. Simply return and exchange until you find favorites!
  8. Learning: Trying out a wide assortment of toys exposes children to more ways of playing, developing skills, and discovering new interests. More variety means more learning!

Toy rentals make getting the right toys for your child's developmental stage simple and affordable! Ditch the toy clutter. Visit The Elefant now to discover the smart way to access toys that will delight kids without overspending. 

Not one toy, the whole library

Download the EleFant app to browse our magical library of toys. Why buy 1-2 toys when you can rent so many?



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