I’ve been getting messages asking about developmentally appropriate toys for babies. Everything seems to be geared toward toddlers. Most boxes proclaim everything is for 12m+, leaving parents scratching their heads on what to get to entertain their littlest ones.
As a family, we are striving to reduce the amount of plastic we use and consume. So we gravitate toward wooden toys. The Waldorf or Montessori principles loosely guide our approach to play. So we opt for open-ended toys that can grow with Anderson as he goes, and hopefully inspire creativity and imagination. Toy rotation is a staple in our household as well. We have toys organized in white bins and each morning we bring out a different bin to play with for the day. This helps keep toys fresh and engaging. We also currently live in a small, urban apartment, so we want things that can be used multiple ways, that meet multiple developmental needs, and sticks to our minimalist approach to life 🙂 Bonus points are given if it’s sold on Amazon and can be shipped directly to my door with my having to hunt for it (as such, each photo below is linked directly to Amazon in case anything catches your eye!).
Hands down the best bang for the buck is the Hape Pound and Tap Bench. The xylophone pulls out and becomes another toy -one that provides gross motor and auditory sensory experiences. The balls are the perfect size for little hands. They’re constantly being removed, clacked together, and thrown in order to chase after. The actual toy itself provides gross motor practice as the child slaps or bangs with a mallet to release the balls. It then teaches them object permanence and they learn to find the balls after they’ve dropped and rolled away.
Another staple in our house is Tegu’s magnetic blocks. They can be used on their own. Or stuck to the fridge or dishwasher to buy you some meal prep time. We also have an IKEA Metal Board that makes a great play surface to experiment with the blocks. Without a magnetic board, a cookie sheet works just as well! Kids will practice their fine and gross motor and they build and pull apart. It’s also really cool to watch Anderson explore what’s magnetic and what isn’t as he crawls around the house trying to attach the blocks to different surfaces
Plan Toys Rattle Roller is the perfect size for baby sized hands. Anderson can grasp it in one hand and give it a shake providing great auditory sensory play. He then loves to toss it, watch it roll away, and crawl after it, which encourages gross motor development. It’s also small enough to fit in the diaper bag, so it’s a great on-the-go toy.
HABA Egg Shakers are a hit over here. We do a double arm, excited wave every time the children’s librarian brings them out at story time. So we got some for home. Each egg has a different sound to explore. I also put them in an old egg carton and have Anderson explore how to get them out. He loves to open and close the lid, pulling each egg out, in turn, to give it a shake before returning it to a new spot. In that time I can get an entire hot supper on the table. It’s a win all around.
Ostheimer Wooden Animals. These are toys were collecting now for use as he grows. At this stage, he just used them as tethers. Or love to have them all set up so he can knock them down one by one. But we’re hoping as he ages they’ll provide open play opportunities as he sets up scenes and worlds with them. If you’re in Victoria, then support local and pick these up at Abbey Sprouts (or you can order them online through them as well!)
Balls. All the balls. Doesn’t matter what kind of ball. Just any of them, all the time. We’re a big fan of catch over here. The Oball is a top fave because it’s easy to catch and throw. The multi-sensory pack of balls from Infantino is also a hit. We just got the Rubbabu Bubble ball for Christmas and it’s also quickly becoming a top choice. A basket of balls is a part of each toy rotation. It’s a daily staple in this household.