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Toys for the First Year: What does your child really need at each age

Updated on December 25, 2011

Play is children's work

From birth to the first year, children do not learn through directed teaching methods, like classroom-style learning. Rather, they learn through observing, listening, watching, mimicking, trial and error, and most commonly, incidental realizations. It is vital to know that from birth to the first year, play is child's work and toys are the tools for learning. Remember that toys at this young age serve primarily to engage not to entertain. Therefore, choosing stimulating, age-appropriate toys to foster your baby's cognitive, physical and social development will play a momentous role in your child's intellectual health.

Birth to three months

At this age, babies spend most of their time looking and listening. Therefore, bright colors and interesting sounds stimulate the development of their senses. A great example of a "toy" is a colorful and engaging mobile. Also, bright colored crib liners, wall papers, and pictures are very important. Some parents enjoy painting the baby's room pink or blue depending on the baby's sex, but according to research, catchy colors like: black and white, red and yellow, tend to stimulate a baby's brain more than the same old pink and blue. It may seem very preposterous that an infant at this age can "play," but believe it or not, sensory development and stimulation is tremendously important for the overall growth of a baby.

Four to six months

Infants at this time period start to unsteadily reach for objects and put them in their mouths. They also learn to roll from laying on their backs to laying on a specific side. Therefore, consider toys that make noise, like textured balls, or others that are tangible, like teething rings. You do not have to go outside of your home to buy stimulating toys for your baby; simple kitchen items, like plastic colored cups will serve the same purpose. Just make sure that the cup is clean and safe for the baby to hold and bite into. Stuffed toys and simple picture books also allow your baby to be visually, physically, and intellectually stimulated.


Seven to nine months

Seven to nine months is when all the fun stuff starts! At this age, you want toys that enhance your baby's cause-and-effect and hand-eye coordination skills. Anything that makes noise, squeaks, can be piled up, knocked over, and shut will be effectual.


  • Blocks
  • Balls
  • Large plastic beads
  • Pots and pans
  • Shape sorters
  • Child-safe plastic containers
  • Push/pull toys.

Note: Just be careful not to attach any strings to your baby's toys to prevent injury and strangulation. Make sure you detach the mobile from your baby's crib if he/she is able to push up on hands and knees.

Ten to twelve months

Throughout this age group, babies start to:

  • Show preference for one hand over the other
  • Hold and drink from a cup
  • Fit blocks, boxes, or nesting toys inside each other
  • Pick up small objects using thumb and forefinger
  • Stand alone and try to walk alone

Since a child can do almost all of the above at this age, it is necessary that the toys you pick should promote their discovery and exploration sense of curiosity. Examples: containers for dumping, various sizes of balls, tunnels for crawling through, simple train, lock and key toys, pop-up books and toys, and baskets/boxes.

Please remember that play is child's work and that by playing, children develop visually, physically and most importantly, intellectually. I hope you enjoyed this hub!


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    • LailaK profile image

      LailaK 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Tirelesstraveler, I am soo glad to hear that! To be honest with you, I wasn't a big fan of kids and babies until I started taking a child-development class at my school. After that, I feel that I understand many of the things that kids do. Thanks for stopping by :)

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 6 years ago from California

      Good ideas! Am already having fun with my grandson not quite four months.

    • sunkentreasure profile image



      Bless your children with the power of prayer

      Celebrate their uniqueness

      Feed them encouragement and inspiration

      and let them feel they are greatly loved.

      Teach your children the beauty of kindness

      Enrich them with the wonders of nature

      Fill their hearts with joyful melody

      and always be their friend.

      Clothe your children in goodness

      Make their world full of nice surprises

      Help them to follow their dreams

      and thank God they came into your life.

      © Bernard Levine

    • Earl S. Wynn profile image

      Earl S. Wynn 6 years ago from California

      Good things to keep in mind! My wife and I bought gifts for our young nephews and nieces this year, and we were kind of lost about what to get them, especially the really young ones! Thanks for publishing this awesome hub! :)