Play to baby’s strengths —and age—with toys that will encourage his mind and motor skills to blossom.
0-3 MONTHS With newbies, a little goes a long way.
Although he won’t be reaching for toys until around month four, your babe’s reflexes will allow him to grasp rattles and other small toys in his tiny hands. Use tummy time to his advantage and help him meet muscular milestones of lifting his head and shoulders and eventually rolling over.
At this stage, your bub is ready to manipulate objects of all different shapes, sizes and materials. It’s a prime time to introduce blocks he can knock over and soft books he can flip through. These activities might seem like fun and games, but they’re also building dexterity.Soon your kiddo will likely cling to a favorite companion, so give him a side-kick you won’t mind sticking around. Fink Toys plush, $46
Ready your bitty bookworm for a lifelong love of reading (and let him practice turning pages) with a soft story to start. Melissa & Doug activity book, $13
7-9 MONTHS Give a gentle push to those on the cusp of crawling.
Now that your stationary sweetie is preparing to get a move on, let playtime offer ample motivation and practice. Put a favorite toy just out of reach, and be amazed as he works to get to it. The best thing you can do to help your babe meet physical milestones is to provide opportunities to grow and explore.
A wheely fun playmate is a surefire way to tempt babes to make a move. Bajo push toy, $15
Build on baby’s depth perception and hand- eye-coordination with cleverly designed cups that forgo a center post. giggle stacking cups, $10
Teach your small-fry the concept of in and out with a toy he can fill and spill. Lamaze fishbowl, $26
10-12 MONTHS Turn playtime into teachable moments.
More complex toys are beginning to make sense to your little learner, and he’s figuring out how to use things for their intended purpose—whether it’s a pretend phone to call dada or a drum to make some noise. These new pursuits are also terrific for socializing and playing with others, something he’ll do more of in the months to come.
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