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Infant & Toddler Toy Guide - Part 1

Infant & Toddler Toy Guide - Part 1



“What are the best educational toys for my child at different ages and stages of development?”

We hear this question a lot - it's something many new parents struggle with. There are a lot of options available, so we have developed some guidelines to help you identify the best educational toys for each step of your child’s growth and learning.

Part 1 looks at skills development, and in Part 2 we look at age-related developmental stages.

While there are distinct stages of development during the first several years of their lives, each child learns and masters skills at their own pace. Most toy packaging indicates a recommended age range, and we’ve categorized our toys and teaching materials by those criteria. Determining the recommended age for a particular toy is generally based on two factors: safety, and developmental abilities. Safety requirements are legislated and enforced by governmental agencies, while the appropriateness for a particular developmental stage is decided by the manufacturer, based on research and focus group studies.

You should always check safety warnings on packaging to confirm any hazards to a younger child, such as strings or elastics (strangulation danger), sharp edges that could cut little hands, noisy toys that might damage hearing, or small parts that are easily swallowed. It is important to always supervise children closely while they play.

It's also important to recognize that one toy can serve different purposes beyond its immediately obvious intention. For example, our Fraction Bricks – Circles is a set of small, colourful wooden blocks that are in a whole, halves, thirds and quarters. Because the blocks are different shapes and are too big to fit into their mouth, this toy is a great way for infants to develop gross motor skills like grasping and manipulation. Those later become fine motor skills as the child learns to assemble the pieces in the base tray. Soon you’re using that same toy for language development as she learns the names of the colours, and for sorting as she figures out how to group the pieces by colour. Even though it's called “Fraction Bricks”, there are many learning opportunities beyond what the name suggests.


On our website, we have organized our Infant & Toddler toys into 8 different categories according to the skills they help develop: cognition, motor skills, sorting, balance, counting, auditory, language, and tactile.


This refers to a child’s general understanding of their surroundings and how the world works, and involves the development of attention, focus, planning, memory and reasoning. Teaching concepts like object permanence, gravity, cause-and-effect, action-and-reaction, etc., provides a foundation for your baby's interaction with the people and things around him.


Motor Skills

Motor skills are divided into gross skills (sitting, crawling, walking, throwing a ball, etc.) and fine skills (grasping toys, feeding themselves, writing, drawing, etc). Infants don’t have a lot of control over their bodies at the beginning, but the right toys can help them learn to use their hands, control their movements more precisely, and improve hand-eye coordination.



This involves the ability to sort and classify objects according to various attributes, make matches, and compare similarities and differences. Even if a child hasn’t learned to say the words yet, teaching her to recognize qualities like shape, colour, and size, and then grouping things with similar qualities together lays the groundwork for the development of logical thought and problem-solving skills.



Related to motor skills, balance is the ability to coordinate, control and move the body. Even before a child has the strength and control to stand up, he can begin to understand the concept of balance by using his hands to work with toys and observing what happens when things get off-kilter.



It's never too early to start counting because, at the beginning of a baby's life, she is absorbing the sounds of language all the time. Even at four months, hearing numbers repeatedly can put her well on her way to understanding the basic idea of quantity. Soon she’ll learn to recognize numbers and gain a basic understanding of addition and subtraction.



Sounds can be just as soothing and stimulating to a baby as touch and sight, and you’ll notice your baby reacting to sounds early on. Soon, he’ll start to focus on where the sound is coming from and responding to it. Toys and activities that introduce new sounds and help him to associate those sounds with people, things, and events help to promote awareness and socialization.



This is one of the most important and difficult skills for a child to develop. A child begins the process by learning to vocalize and to understand the meanings of words she hears. Toys that describe things like shapes and colours and that introduce the vocabulary of concepts like size (small, medium, large) and comparison (light, heavier, heaviest) will help to boost the development of language skills.



Our sense of touch helps connect us to the people and things around us and informs us about our surroundings by revealing things like temperature, texture and even danger. As a child grows, he becomes more aware of his environment through touching and feeling things. He also learns to differentiate between hot and cold, dry and wet, hard and soft, etc. Toys that promote a strong tactile sense help children become more aware of their environment and what's in it.



Never underestimate your own role in your child’s development. You are your child’s very first teacher. Toys are the tools that help with learning but it’s you who nurtures that growth. Besides providing your child with these fun educational tools, you are there to encourage, instruct, and celebrate as they discover and progress and blossom into the most amazing little beings.


We know there are a lot of choices in educational toys out there and we hope this information gives you some guidelines to consider. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about our products and help you find the right toy for your child, at every age and stage of their development.

Thinkamajigs offers a wide variety of Montessori and Montessori-inspired teaching materials, educational toys, games, and related products, and we are constantly adding new items from around the world. While the educational benefits and merits of each product are first and foremost, we also ensure that every item meets our high standards of quality, durability, safety, and value, so you can be confident you’re buying a great product at a great price with great customer service.

CLICK HERE to read Part 2: Age-Related Developmental Stages.

Please visit our website, call us at 1-800-363-3013, or contact us here

6th Apr 2023 Thinkamajigs