As a speech-language pathologist for almost 50 years, I honestly believe that the most important part of a child’s communication development is….. their parents! The runner up at a close second place are toys! And when you combine both, the phenomenon of actual dialogue amazingly occurs. It’s important to note that some toys are better at helping this process. I felt is was very important to develop a list of approximately 10 toys for children within the following age groups: 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 1 year of age and 2 years of age and share the success I have witnessed with you: parents, grandparents and other family members and friends. Enjoy perusing, purchasing and playing. Have fun, and Happy Holidays!
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Gifts for Babies 0-6 Months Old
Features: This portable play gym can be used in any part of the house or taken with you for family visits.
Best for: Cognitive and motor development
Features: This water play mat is colorful and portable.
Best for: Cognitive development and development of muscle strength and range of motion.
Features: This water mat is visually entertaining for babies.
Best for: Development of upper body strength and visual perception
Features: This play gym has activities for children in early infancy through their 3rd birthday. It transfers to many configurations to
accommodate tummy play and for carrying the musical instrument.
Best for: Development of language concepts, speech development, motor strengthening and color and music appreciation
Features: These rattles are multicolored to introduce choice-making.
Best for: Eye-hand coordination development, environmental and body exploration
Features: This mirror is excellent for tummy play, highchair time or interacting with mom and dad during lap time.
Best for: Every baby needs to see their beautiful face! Promotes facial part recognition and development of self-awareness
Features: This toy allows infants to engage in stimulating learning experiences without premature exposure to unnecessary screen time while traveling in the car.
Best for: Excellent infant stimulation of cognitive skills. Stimulates thinking, motor and language skills
Features: This baby pillow is soft and easy to hold.
Best for: Environmental exploration and awareness
Features: This snuggle toy has 30 minutes of soft music and lights, customizable sound and breathing motion. It's also machine washable.
Best for: Soothing baby after activities and play time
Features: This toy is the #1 pick of a speech-language pathologist.
Best for: Overall infant development! Activities
on mat, above baby and on poles
Gifts for Infants 6-12 Months Old
Features: This toy is a safe introduction to block building with soft colors and images.
Best for: Stimulation of the 5 senses during play
Features: This night light and sound machine allows for multiple LED scenes that project on the wall or ceiling.
Best for: Calming or soothing baby after a day of play and stimulation
Features: These rings are an ideal fit for infant hands and features funny sounds with each stacked ring.
Best for: Cognitive stimulation for introduction to STEM learning. Many learning opportunities in one toy
Features: This walker has a removable busy board for stationary floor play.
Best for: Promotes overall development while promoting gross and fine motor strengthening.
Features: Two essential toys at a reasonable price- ring stack and shape sorter.
Best for: Wide variety of concept development including “dump & fill” play stage, and exposure to shape/color/size exploration.
Features: This toy is easily inflated and colorful.
Best for: Encourages mobility, building strong core and cause and effect while baby tries to catch this visually stimulating toy.
Features: This learning toy is soft and huggable.
Best for: Plush boy dog to learn body parts and action word vocabulary
Features: This learning toy is soft and huggable.
Best for: Plush girl dog to learn body parts and action word vocabulary
Features: This ball is easy for baby’s small hands to manipulate.
Best for: Infant exploration and problem solving
Features: This musical drum has a colorful, removable lid.
Best for: Beginning skills like following directions, matching and learning attention to task
Features: This activity center comes in 3 colors/patterns and has a wide variety of activities in a safe environment.
Best for: Baby can safely walk around while exploring an age-appropriate activity center.
Gifts for One-Year-Olds
Features: This pelican toy is washable, soft and huggable and children can change animals within the pelican's “diet.”
Best for: Excellent parent/child face-to-face play with built-in language stimulation and social development
Features: This toy is colorful and versatile.
Best for: Development of problem solving and imagination
Features: This set has realistic produce and vibrant colors.
Best for: Learning to sort and categorize, learning to make pretend and vocabulary growth
Features: These puzzles provide versatile and developmental learning and are based on Montessori learning principles.
Best for: Fine motor and logic development, with 4-piece to 6-piece puzzles included
Features: Comes with a family sized just right for toddler hands and folds with a handle for carrying.
Best for: Developing social skills, speech and language vocabulary
Features: This farm plays songs and makes animal sounds.
Best for: Speech/Language development, including imitation, vocabulary and concept development
Features: This musical train has animals that engage in actions during the ride.
Best for: Language development and imaginative interactive play
Features: Select set(s) compliment the child’s interests by including people, animals and vehicles with basic blocks.
Best for: Motor development, imagination, peer play and vocabulary growth
Features: This basket can speak to your child for social growth or be turned off.
Best for: Integrated play with basic shaped foods that match plated shapes
Features: You don’t need a kid-size kitchen for kitchen play. This playset is portable with picnic side play.
Best for: Social skill development, learning sequencing skills and imaginative play.
Gifts for Two-Year-Olds
Features: The animals store within the truck.
Best for: Versatile learning, imaginative play, language development and fine motor skills
Features: The soup ingredients store in its own cardboard lidded soup bowl.
Best for: Learning 1:1 correspondence, communication skills and imaginative interactive play
Features: This bear also serves as a building/nesting toy.
Best for: Excellent vocabulary development of a child's environment, facilitates “WH” question answering, matching skills and developing eye for detail.
Features: Parents will love that they can turn off the sound.
Best for: Variety of books for broad vocabulary learning. Needs only light tap by a toddler to access words, and many of the books are bilingual.
Features: These realistic toys actually work, and the backpack holds pieces.
Best for: Excellent for hours of make pretend play and language interaction
Melissa and Doug Sound Puzzles
Features: All of these puzzles feature realistic sounds and are children supported.
Best for: Excellent at providing stimulation to promote the sound imitation necessary for speech sound development.
Mr & Mrs. Potato Head
Features: There are a wide variety of sets and accessory sets. Parents are encouraged to pick sets that best represent their child’s interests. Most sets have self-storage and interchangeable facial parts for generalized learning.
Best for: Wonderful toys to teach body parts and encourage social skills
Features: This cash register has many parts, but you can introduce a couple at a time to avoid overload.
Best for: Communication development, vocabulary development and social skills
Features: This ice cream set comes with heavy wooden pieces. Be careful if the child likes to throw toys.
Best for: Development of social skills and communication skills, to include vocabulary, as well as asking and answering questions.
New York doll collection 11” dolls
Features: These dolls come in a variety of skin tones and genders.
Best for: Excellent to develop social and communication skills. Perfect if a new baby is expected in the family.
Features: This is a fold and carry toy, and the house becomes a case.
Best for: If your child likes CoComelon (or even if not) this doll house has some furniture, people and animals of perfect toddler hand size.