It’s the winter holiday season. Perhaps you prefer to keep this time of year simple. Or maybe you have a go-big-or-go-home mentality. If you’re like many American families though, you’re probably on the look out for at least a few gifts for the young children on your list. We here at Intuition Wellness Center believe that the best gifts you can give a child are free. Yet, if you feel consumerism tugging at you, we certainly aren’t judging. Our pediatric occupational therapist, Anne Berkery, OTR/L has done the hard work for you and scoured the current toy offerings. Read on for the best toys for babies, toddlers and preschoolers as determined by a pediatric occupational therapist.
Best Toys for Babies
If you’re looking for toys that will support the littlest of littles in reaching their milestones, look no further. Intuition Wellness Center’s pediatric occupational therapist, has wrangled and organized a few toys that will help your baby’s visual skills, hand-eye coordination, and healthy sensory processing.
- Sassy Floor Mirror Large True-Reflection. The high contrast images are easy on baby’s developing visual sense and the true-reflection mirror allows for baby to focus on a human face.
- Wimmer-Ferguson Learning Cube. High contrast black and white supports baby’s visual skills while ribbons, crinkle paper, flaps, rattles and other fun gizmos encourage baby to reach and grasp.
- Joyshare 4 Piece Hanging Rattle Set. Clips onto baby’s stroller or car seat and encourages baby to grasp and shake to make soft sounds.
- Toy Chest Nyc Penguin Ring Stacker. This solid wood rainbow stacker with it’s cutie pie penguin topper encourages babies 6 months and older to reach, grasp and stack while older babies and toddlers may enjoy a more creative and interactive take on this classic toy.
- Sassy Whimsical Wheels. The movement of this toy, high contrast, and mirror support baby’s visual skills while encouraging baby to reach and tug at wheels filled with multi-colored beads for improved hand-eye coordination.
Development of Touch
Sassy Sensory Activity Panels. Clever fabric panels with high contrast images and touchy-feely panels that can be assembled into a fabric book or taken apart. It’s a delight for little one’s developing senses.
Dophyranix Super Durable Sensory Balls. Soft and textured balls help develop baby’s tactile senses while promoting grip. Remains fun for baby as they age into a more mobile kicking and throwing toddler.
Taggies Little Leaf Elephant Lovey Soft Toy. Soft and soothing, this lovey has satin tags for baby to pull on and is the perfect size for little hands to snuggle.
Best Toys for Toddlers
If you’re looking for toys for the young movers and shakers in your life, Intuition Wellness Center’s pediatric occupational therapist, has a few recommendations that will support hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills.
- Djeco Nesting and Stacking Blocks. This sweet and whimsical set includes 6 boxes to stack and 6 little animals to fit inside. The options allow for little ones to put the set together in a variety of combinations, all while practicing their hand-eye coordination.
- Gleeporte Stacking Peg Board Set Toy. A Montessori-style toy that will encourage kiddo to stack and sort and is especially good for visual and fine motor skills.
- Fat Brain Toys Roll Again Sorter. Toddlers love sorting toys. This toy comes with 4 different balls that, with the child’s help, propel down a track to their color-matched basin.
- Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Piggy Bank. Comes with 10 “coins” that allow kiddo to make deposits into the bank that promote finger dexterity as well as visual skills.
Gross Motor Skills
- Fisher-Price Bright Beginnings Activity Walker. This is a versatile toy that has been around for awhile. While it allows for kiddos to flip open doors, turn gears, and slide beads for fine motor support, it will also transition to supporting gross motor skills when baby is ready to get-up-and-go.
- Hape Wonder Walker Push and Pull. Touted as a busy-box on wheels, this walker provides a sturdy foundation for newly mobile little ones to pull up on or push around. Movable knobs, gears and colorful balls allow for fine motor work as well.
Best Toys for Preschoolers
If you’re looking for fun and useful toys that will support your preschooler’s development, Intuition Wellness Center’s pediatric occupational therapist, has already done the research and has compiled a list of toys that will support your preschooler’s visual skills, hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills and balance.
- I Spy Everything Book. Though this book is marketed as helping children learn their letter sounds, we like it because it requires the child to visually sort through images.
- Unicorn Handwriting Workbook. This book is especially helpful for kids, 3-5 years old. It offers pages of letters to trace as well as fun images of unicorns to color.
- Scissors Skills Workbook. A budget-friendly choice that includes 64 pages with increasingly complex cutting tasks. This workbook is particularly geared toward children who haven’t quite got the hang of using scissors yet and is great for supporting those developing fine motor and visual skills.
- Kidcraft Wooden Backyard Sandbox. Sandboxes are great for so much more than hand-eye coordination. Sifting through the sand and burying and building are great activities for sensory processing, fine motor work and imagination!
Gross Motor Skills
- Strider Balance Bike. Bikes with training wheels teach children how to ride while unbalanced whereas a balance bike, which has just two wheels and no pedals, keeps the child in control and allows them to lean and maneuver more easily.
- Hanging Pod Hammock Seat. For children who seek out movement, this swing can be a great cozy place to calm their senses.
- Saucer Tree Swing Seat. Another favorite swing that you’ll find in our pediatric occupational therapy room. This disc-shaped swing helps with balance, calms, and supports children who seek out movement.
- JumJoe Kids Trampoline. This 36-inch trampoline will help with coordination, balance, muscle strength and meet the movement and pressure needs of your kiddo.
Would you like a pediatric occupational therapist to support you around your child’s special needs? Request an appointment or call us for more information at 520-333-3320.
At Intuition Wellness Center, we specialize in health and wellness services for children, young adults and families. We offer parent education seminars, wellness classes and other supportive services. If you think you would like some extra support, call us. Call 520-333-3320 for a free phone consultation.
Contributions by: Anne Berkery, OTR/L (formerly Swiderek), Pediatric Occupational Therapist.
A Word about Affiliates
The recommended toys above contain affiliate links to products. If you click through and purchase, Intuition Wellness Center will receive a small commission on the sale. Rest assured, we only recommend products or services that our team members personally use or believe will be helpful to our readers or clients.