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Which Toys Are Best?

Which Toys Are Best?

There are so many toys on the market nowadays that it's not always easy to choose the right toy for your child's stage of development.

Leading child psychologist Dr Amanda Gummer explains what each child should play with at their development level

In recent years, the number and variety of toys available for babies in the shops has exploded. With such a vast choice on offer, it is helpful to look at what babies gain from playing with toys and
whether some types of toys aid baby's development more than others. Below, Dr Amanda Gummer explains what sort of play children engage with, along with the types of toys that are suitable for them during different stages of their development - from birth to their first year.

'Babies develop rapidly, so it is important to look closely at the skills required to use certain toys and the toys that will encourage them. The age ranges provided with toys are standardised and it is important to understand that, within certain limits, children develop different skills at different times and whilst some development is linear, many children are ahead of the game in some areas and a little behind their peers in others - and this is perfectly ‘normal'.

'When choosing toys for babies it is crucial to look at a child's abilities before buying, so that you avoid trying to make them develop too quickly by getting toys that are too advanced for them. Buying toys that are not suitable for a babies stage of development will only result in the child becoming bored with a toy and rejecting it.'

Newborn Toys

'Newborn babies do not ‘play' with toys as such, as they have insufficient hand-eye coordination to move their hands to deliberately pick up objects, but they will grasp things which are put in their hands.
During the first few weeks of life, babies' vision is still developing and research has shown that babies will look for longer at contrasting colours than at the more traditional pastel ‘baby' colours. However, softer colours have a calming effect so pastel colours for cuddly toys are better than bright colours - which are more appropriate for playtime toys. Babies' eyesight will develop naturally and there is no developmental benefit to sight of providing specific visual stimuli. However, toys which are visually attractive to a baby may be played play in itself will aid development.'
Bullet Toys like rattles, mobiles, mirrors, and soft toys are most appropriate for very newborn babies, as they learn to move their head to sounds and focus their eyes on moving objects.

Toys for 3 to 6 month olds

'At three to six months, babies are
playing with train set
starting to become more aware of their environment and although they are still largely unable to control the movement of their limbs they will enjoy toys such as baby gyms. The movement or noise which results from the baby hitting or kicking in their baby gym, will entertain the baby and aid development of skills such as concentration. It also encourages an understanding of cause and effect, as well as the beginnings of an understanding of them as a person. As babies start grabbing things and putting them in their mouths, their motor development goes through a spurt. Anything which
a baby can hold with their whole hand which can be safely put into their mouth will encourage development and will help sooth early teethers.'
Bullet Toys such as rattles and other noisy toys, toys with lights and music, pram toys, teethers and activity centres are appropriate for this age group.

Toys for 9 months to one year old

'At nine to 12 months children start to move around their environment, so toys with wheels that push along will give them an opportunity to practice walking. It also allows them to model adult behaviour, which is very valuable for social development.
Also, small toys with wheels, as well as balls and other toys that move are beneficial in aiding development of movement. As a baby moves around their environment, they are able to experience the world in their own way, which will allow them to have a range of experiences that they couldn't have before. Babies of this age like to put things in and out of containers, so a tub of bricks in a plastic box is likely to be very appealing plus the repetitive action is great for the development of neural path ways.'
Bullet Toys such as shape sorters, stacking toys/bricks, musical instruments, picture books, wheeled toys and bath toys are all appropriate for this age group.
Dr. Amanda Gummer
September 2011


Dr Amanda Gummer is a leading authority on child development, play and parenting with over 20 years working with families and toy manufacturers. She has recently launched a brand new online play and advice service www.my2frontteeth.co.uk that offers parents and present buyers access to independent, unbiased information about play and child development. www.my2frontteeth.co.uk explains what sort of play children engage with in different situations and at different ages. It features examples of the very best products and
services for children from birth through to teens with an extensive collection including indoor and outdoor toys, creative activities, books, educational games and hi-tech gadgets. With no commercial interest, the team at my2frontteeth gives parents and present buyers unbiased and expert recommendations based on a child's sex, age, interests and individual needs. With the recent Bailey report advocating that children should be children, parents can discover the kind of play that kids can really benefit from - all with no obligation to buy at the end of it.


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