Your baby will develop quickly from birth to six months old. They will enjoy discovering and exploring their new surroundings and the right toys for their age will help aid your child’s development in a way you may never have thought possible.
For the first two months of your baby’s life, their vision will be blurry and they will spend the majority of their time either asleep or feeding, so toys at this age aren’t typically recommended.
What age should I start buying toys for my young child?
All babies love to grasp toys and enjoy hearing sounds and seeing vibrant colours, but at what age should they be playing with what? When will they start reaching for toys or playing with them un-aided?
Let’s have a look at each developmental stage and the age-appropriate toys that are best for them.
Two to three months old
From two months old, when your baby can finally grasp things with their hands and they start to develop hand-eye coordination is the best time to introduce your little one to toys.
Opt for a variety of age-appropriate toys that make noises, feature some key colours and a variety of textures as this will help enhance your child’s physical, cognitive, creative, and social skills.
As they often feature hanging toys in bright colours and textures and some even feature sounds, this helps them to explore the world through their sense of sound, touch and sight.
As a result, they continually develop their motor skills and when you practice tummy time this gives them the opportunity to develop their head and neck strength which is essential for crawling and walking.
Four to six months old
By the time your baby is around four months old, they will start grabbing toys that look interesting to them. These toys usually feature flashing lights and audio or are stuffed animals that feel nice to hold or chew on.
It’s around this stage in your child’s development that they start to explore the world through touch and taste, so it’s not uncommon for you to see your infant attempt to chew on a new toy.
Any toys you choose for young children at this age should be age-appropriate meaning there shouldn’t be any loose parts that could break off and become hazardous to them.
Six to eight months old
At six months old, your child will start looking for more things to play with as they become more alert and need to occupy more.
It can be hard to keep thinking of new activities and games to play with your baby, so a few simple toys can really come in handy.
The simplest toys really are the most effective, after all the thing your child will most want to play with is you, but toys are a great way to keep your baby amused and aid their development.
Two of the best toys your baby can play with at this age are a bouncy ball and stacking cups.
A ball provides hours of great fun for your child – it’s something to see, touch, and interact with. Bouncy balls can help your child develop hand-eye coordination as they learn to throw and catch.
Stacking cups are another fantastic toy for older babies as they keep their hands busy and aid their development.
Stacking colourful toy cups on top of one another is another way that babies develop their coordination and understand spatial awareness – how things fit inside and on top of each other.
They also help kids fine-tune their motor skills as they are continually picking up and placing down cups on top of one another.
Eight months upwards
At around eight months, your little one will be able to competently grasp objects with their hands and enjoy stacking objects together or helping put toys away, as they progress and get closer to their first birthday they should be able to sort shapes using a shape sorter.
Shape sorters help young children understand the relationship between objects which is great for educational purposes such as mathematics as they help your child understand basic concepts – organising and categorising.
What should I look for when buying baby toys?
Colour and contrast
Although children can see from birth, the world is still blurry to them meaning they can only see contrast colours.
Because of this, it’s recommended that high contrast toys with bold patterns and simplistic shapes are the best for your baby.
Stimulating them with colour and bold patterns can help them to notice and begin picking out different shapes. As babies go through the various developmental stages they’ll enjoy playing with toys that are bright and bold.
Toys that make sound might give you a headache, but they help babies learn where sounds come from. Research has shown that toys that make noises, such as wind chimes, rattles or electronic toys, are extremely effective at commanding children’s attention by activating their orienting reflex.
This compels the mind to focus on the audio and helps them to develop their cognitive skills.
Textured activity blankets and toys with different textures help to stimulate your child’s senses and encourage exploration so are perfect for little ones.
Whether as part of a play gym or a mobile in their crib, toys that hang overhead encourage babies to reach out for them, developing their gross-motor and grasping skills.