6 educational toys to help boost your baby’s development from 0 – 12 months

Toys play an important role in your child’s development, but knowing which are beneficial can be challenging. Here’s a guide to point you in the right direction. By Julia Boltt

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What really makes a toy educational is that it engages cognitive and sensory skills and helps develop gross- and fine-motor skills. Toys that show lights and sound, but that don’t require much interaction, take away the element of creativity.

ALSO SEE: The importance of creative play and how it benefits your child’s development

The following age-appropriate ideas will ensure your little one gets the most from play time.

Educational toys for babies 0-6 months

  • “This is a big sensory motor phase, so you want toys that offer plenty of sensory feedback − either auditory or tactile,” says Nicole Hilburn, paediatric physiotherapist and owner of Brightbeans Toys.
  • “Colour is important, and for children under two months of age, stark contrasts, like black and white patterns, are ideal.
  • From two to four months old, Nicole recommends a light rattle. A toy that provides cause-and-effect is preferable, so when your baby moves her arms the toy either crinkles or rattles.
  • “After this, things like play gyms are perfect. Anything that’s hanging gives your baby plenty of feedback – he can swipe something and it moves or jingles,” says Nicole.
  • Under six months of age, the colour, feel and sound of a toy is important.

ALSO SEE: 7 developmental games you can play with your baby

Recommended toys:

Bright Starts 5-in-1 Your Way Ball Play Gym, R1 255, takealot.com

Bright Starts 5-in-1 Your Way Ball Play Gym, Pigeon Training Teether Step1, R90, takealot.com

Pigeon Training Teether Step1

Tiny Love Double-Sided First Book, R269, takealot.com

Tiny Love Double-Sided First Book

Educational toys for babies 6-12 months

  • Hand function is improving at this stage, so look for toys that provide sensory feedback as well as more cause-and-effect toys, for example plush books that allow your child to turn the pages himself, or toys where an action causes a reaction.
  • “Melissa and Doug have a lovely tower toy, where you put a ball in the top and push it, and something happens. Your baby will be able to manage this a couple of weeks after he starts sitting. Later on, he can hit the ball with a hammer, so the toy extends with the child,” explains Nicole.
  • However, although items like shape sorters and stacking rings are often marketed for this age group, they can be too difficult cognitively, cautions Nicole. Simple games like packing and unpacking (Tupperware are perfect for this), or knocking down a tower of blocks, are highly recommended.

ALSO SEE: Games to play with your baby

Recommended toys:

Melissa & Doug Pound & Roll Tower, R320, brightbeans.co.za or takealot.com

Melissa & Doug Pound & Roll Tower

Fuzzy Bee and Friends fabric book, R159, takealot.com

Fuzzy Bee and Friends fabric book

Melissa & Doug Wiggling Worm grasping toy, R130, takealot.com

Melissa & Doug Wiggling Worm grasping toy

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