Safe toys for young children are well-made (with no sharp parts or splinters and do not pinch); painted with nontoxic, lead-free paint; shatter-proof; and easily cleaned. It is important to remember that typical wear and tear can result in a once safe toy becoming hazardous. Adults should check toys frequently to make sure they are in good repair.
Toys for young infants—birth through 6 months
Babies like to look at people—following them with their eyes. Typically, they prefer faces and bright colors. Babies can reach, be fascinated with what their hands and feet can do, lift their heads, turn their heads toward sounds, put things in their mouths, and much more!
Good toys for young infants:
- Things they can reach for, hold, suck on, shake, make noise with—rattles, large rings, squeeze toys, teething toys, soft dolls, textured balls, and vinyl and board books
- Things to listen to—books with nursery rhymes and poems, and recordings of lullabies and simple songs
- Things to look at—pictures of faces hung so baby can see them and unbreakable mirrors
Toys for older infants—7 to 12 months
Older babies are movers—typically they go from rolling over and sitting, to scooting, bouncing, creeping, pulling themselves up, and standing.
Good toys for older infants:
- Things to play pretend with—baby dolls, puppets, plastic and wood vehicles with wheels, and water toys
- Things to drop and take out—plastic bowls, large beads, balls, and nesting toys
- Things to build with—large soft blocks and wooden cubes
- Things to use their large muscles with—large balls, push and pull toys, and low, soft things to crawl over
Toys for 1-year-olds
One-year-olds are on the go! Typically they can walk steadily and even climb stairs. They enjoy stories, say their first words, and can play next to other children (but not yet with!). They like to experiment—but need adults to keep them safe.
Good toys for 1-year-olds:
- Board books with simple illustrations or photographs of real objects
- Recordings with songs, rhymes, simple stories, and pictures
- Things to create with—wide non-toxic, washable markers, crayons, and large paper
- Things to pretend with—toy phones, dolls and doll beds, baby carriages and strollers, dress-up accessories (scarves, purses), puppets, stuffed toys, plastic animals, and plastic and wood “realistic” vehicles
- Things to build with—cardboard and wood blocks (can be smaller than those used by infants—2 to 4 inches)
- Things for using their large and small muscles—puzzles, large pegboards, toys with parts that do things (dials, switches, knobs, lids), and large and small balls
Toys for 2-year-olds (toddlers)
Toddlers are rapidly learning language and have some sense of danger. Nevertheless they do a lot of physical “testing”: jumping from heights, climbing, hanging by their arms, rolling, and rough-and-tumble play.
Good toys for 2-year-olds:
- Things for solving problems—wood puzzles (with 4 to 12 pieces), blocks that snap together, objects to sort (by size, shape, color, smell), and things with hooks, buttons, buckles, and snaps
- Things for pretending and building—blocks, smaller (and sturdy) transportation toys, construction sets, child-sized furniture (kitchen sets, chairs, play food), dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, puppets, and sand and water play toys
- Things to create with—large non-toxic, washable crayons and markers, large paintbrushes and finger-paint, large paper for drawing and painting, colored construction paper, toddler-sized scissors with blunt tips, chalkboard and large chalk, and rhythm instruments
- Picture books with more details than books for younger children
- CD and DVD players with a variety of music.
- Things for using their large and small muscles—large and small balls for kicking and throwing, ride-on equipment (but probably not tricycles until children are 3), tunnels, low climbers with soft material underneath, and pounding and hammering toys.
For more information on toys and safety please visit: https://www.naeyc.org/toys