Choosing Appropriate Developmental Toys for Your Infant - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Choosing Appropriate Developmental Toys for Your Infant

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With thousands of toys for parents to choose from, it can be difficult to know what toys are appropriate for children at different developmental stages.

The toys parents choose for their children are important as they contribute to learning and development in a variety of ways that challenge their patterns of movement, cognitive skills, social skills and creativity. 

That is why health officials say the majority of learning and development at a young age comes from the availability of appropriate toys that stimulate and challenge areas of physical, cognitive, social/emotional, language and self-help/adaptive skills. 

Questions parents should consider when selecting toys for their children include:

  • Is it safe?
  • Is it appropriate to the developmental level of the child?
  • Is it durable?
  • Is it fun?
  • Will it stimulate my child's imagination and senses?
  • Does it encourage physical play?
  • Does the toy promote playing together that can build social skills and encourage interactions with family and friends?

Developmental milestones to watch out for in infants from birth to 6 months include:

  • Tracking objects with eyes;
  • Grasping reflex is present;
  • Laying on tummy: raises head and chest while supporting weight on forearms;
  • Turning head to noise;
  • Rolling to both sides;
  • Looking at hands and bringing things to mouth;
  • Reaching for toys;
  • Shaking a rattle when placed in hand;
  • Smiling; and
  • Beginning to hold own bottle.

Developmental Milestones to watch for in babies 7 months to a year include:

Sitting without support and playing with both hands in sitting

  • Pulling self into standing position;
  • Banging toys together or on table;
  • Clapping hands palm to palm;
  • Removing rings from ring stacker;
  • Taking toys out of container, putting toys in container;
  • Pulling pop beads apart;
  • Pointing finger or poking with finger;
  • Opening a book with hard cardboard pages, turning pages;
  • Stacking and knocking over toys as a game;
  • With supervision, picking up tiny objects (such as beans, cheerios, small beads) using index finger and thumb only; and
  • Feeding self finger foods.

Toys that encourage development of these skills include:

  • Baby play gyms;
  • Musical light-up toys;
  • Rattles;
  • Teething ring;
  • Activity centers;
  • Toys on a string;
  • Playing patty-cake and peek-a-boo;
  • Encouraging baby to hold own bottle/cup;
  • Give baby "tummy time";
  • Have baby imitate what you do with toys;
  • Picture books;
  • String beads with supervision;
  • Puzzles with large pieces and wooden knobs;
  • Musical instruments: keyboards, drums, tambourines;
  • Play telephone;
  • Talking stuffed animals;
  • Stacking toys;
  • Blocks of different sizes, colors, textures;
  • Popbeads;
  • Ring Stack; and
  • Encourage child to self-feed finger foods.

For more information or a list of more specific toy recommendations for birth to 6 months, contact the Children's Rehab Center, 835 South Burlington in Hastings, at 402.463.2077 or

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