This play-focused, build those super-important foundational skills idea is brought to you by Melissa & Doug, written by our Blog Ambassador Amy Mascott.
With a million, trillion toys on the market these days, how do you know which to choose for your little ones? What toys should parents be looking for in terms of quality, engagement, excitement, and learning potential?
As a parent of three and former classroom educator, I’m partial to toys that pack an extra punch–I want toys to open doors to imaginative play while at the same time help kiddos to develop all of those super-important foundational skills.
Here are my top four must-have toys for baby’s first year (okay, and a wee bit beyond!):
2. Stuffed Bug Fill and Spill Set: (6 mos) Just about the time that babies are learning to sit on their own, the Stuffed Bug Jug Fill & Spill Set is a toy that encourages the larger muscle movements of filling and emptying a container. And because the four tiny bugs–a grasshopper, spider, ladybug, and butterfly–have unique and exciting design elements that will encourage fine motor development, this set is the perfect combination.
Not a fan of cute and sweet insects? Consider the other Fill & Spill toys (which I also adore): Fill & Spill Picnic Basket, Fishbowl Fill & Spill, Pretty Purse Fill & Spill, Toolbox Fill & Spill, or Sports Bag Fill & Spill.
3. Soft Rainbow Stacker: (9 mos) A classic toy with a new twist, I love that this stacker is soft, squishy, and made with durable material that is easy to grasp, squeeze, and stack. As little ones are sitting and standing, this toy continues to support the development of larger-muscle groups and gross motor skills while at the same time introducing hand-eye coordination skills needed to put each ring on the stacker.
Each ring is made of several different textures which kids will love, and each makes its own sound: jingle, rattle, squeak, and crinkle.
This toy lends itself to talking about the basics of color identification, counting, and now caregivers can introduce early math vocabulary (over, above, below, next, last, biggest, smallest, etc.) as they stack the rings.
4. Wooden Movable Friendly Fish Grasping Toy: (12 mos) I have watched numerous toddlers use this toy to twist, flip, straighten, circle, and then do it all over again. Six brightly colored, happy little fish are connected by a strong elastic cord, and when twisted into position, they can form a perfect circle.
This grasping toy is small enough to fit in a diaper bag or purse but will keep little ones engaged for quite a some time. Once children learn how to twist the six fish into position, they will be thrilled to demonstrate how they can create a circle out of their swimming, smiling fish toy.
Looking for more toy recommendations? Check out all of the Melissa & Doug baby toys or visit our blog to see more posts on baby toys.
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