Today is Black Friday, and the Christmas shopping season is official! Let me just start this post by saying I am very anti-toy. Okay not really... I know they are necessary for your child's development and happiness, but with a tiny house and Christmas just around the corner, I'm mildly stressing about it! Also, last Christmas was so easy with a 2-month old... we didn't buy him anything! haha.
Fast-forward a year-- Rowan just turned one in October, so we are pretty stocked on toys! I've had the urge to donate half of everything we own, but I already drive Zack crazy with my anxiety-driven purging.
So I was thinking, what toys can we give him that he will like the best and play with the longest? Some pretty schnazzy research a few years ago showed that when kids could make more discoveries on their own with an item, that their playtime was significantly longer. But okay... that still doesn't tell me which toys may be the best for different stages.
Again, I'm no expert, and observing my child is a singular, unique situation... but maybe these picks will help someone navigate picking fewer, better toys!
If I could've only had one type of toy for each stage, this is what I would choose...
Newborn: Obviously, this is not a stage when babies can even see past one foot in front of them, and basically want to just be snuggled or fed 100% of the time. However, the first toy that lit up Rowan's eyes was his Freddie the Firefly mobile. Unfortunately, it looks like that particular kind was discontinued... whyyyy??? I'm sure other similar things exist. One extra reason we loved this: you can use a black and white side first and then switch to color, and the classical songs really were not annoying to hear!
0-3 Months: This stage is when toys are the easiest. Any tiny hanging toy that jingles is probably going to be just great. However, if we were going out and could only grab one thing, it was usually the Hungry Caterpillar activity toy. Look for a toy with multiple features -- things to grab, pull, spin, push, squeak, slide, and rattle. These types will also have velcro or a hook for the stroller or the carseat!
3-6 Months: Okay I kind of cheated... my pick for this age is not technically a toy. I picked the Joovy Spoon walker, because this definitely got more use than any singular toy. 1. It isn't hideous. 2. You can keep switching out the toys on the large tray. 3. It adjusts height, and started low enough for Rowan to get in it at 3ish months old! win win win. Now, as time goes on, this age group does just want to throw the toys off of the tray (as opposed to a walker with attached toys), but replacing the toys wasn't a major issue to me.
6-9 Months: Now your baby is on the move! Balls and musical instrument toys are awesome! Also you can turn on music for them to bounce or scoot while creating some great percussion. The easy to grasp green ball rattle and maracas were and still are go-to toys. During these months, Rowan was walking, pulling up, standing and taking his first steps and throwing the ball became his #1 activity.
9-12 Months: It was really hard to pick what toy he plays with the longest, because there are actually a few different ones. However, the stacking cups and shape bucket was a very underrated, unsuspecting toy! One day I looked down and he was pulling out the cups and putting them back -- over and over and over. Maybe since he doesn't have balancing skills yet, but he has never played with traditional blocks longer than the two seconds it takes him to knock down the tower I built. But this bucket... it was pure discovery for a huge chunk of time! Now he likes to see what else he can fit inside and has started understanding how to match the shapes.
0-12 Months: If all the toys did not exist, we would still survive... because, BOOKS! Our books get way more airtime than any singular toy does. Also, let's be real that I teach reading intervention, and every time I see him turn the pages and point to picture details, I'm like "concepts of print, what-what!!" Some favorites include board books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? or a Play-A-Song book. Even as a newborn, he could be wailing and hear his play-a-song book and immediately stop crying! Literacy skills and magic, people!
So now I need some help! To the mamas ahead of us with toddlers, what toys have been the favorites -- specifically age 1-2?
Here are some things on my Pinterest wish list so far: