8 Toys for Your Toddler
Toys that meet your tot’s developmental and behavioral needs through play
The key to optimal growth and development during the toddler years is through stimulating play. Play is the developmentally appropriate way toddlers communicate with others, develop coping skills, express their inner emotions, and gain new insights about how to get along within their environment. Without proper time for unstructured play, children do not develop in an optimal manner. Play encourages the development of fine and gross motor skills, executive functioning skills, and it increases your child’s ability to learn and engage with others.
Toddlers are in the stage of development in which they need to try new tasks and learn to accomplish things on their own to develop independence and autonomy. There should be no focus on goal directed behaviors- the only task of this age is to try new things to see what they like or don’t like.
When toddlers are able to accomplish new tasks on their own, they develop a sense of autonomy and accomplishment. This increases the child’s self-confidence and self-competency. Toddlers that are able to master this stage of development move on to become secure, confident children that are not afraid to try new things.
Toys and games that encourage creativity, movement, and exploration are most beneficial for children of the toddler age. Toys that encourage connection and participation with parents are also very beneficial for toddlers, as children develop optimally through positive relationships with primary caregivers.
The following toys are appropriate for the toddler age as they encourage creativity, imagination, exploration, and connection with parents.
- Anne Claire Petit Tea Set: This tea set is wonderful for bonding and connecting with the primary caregiver, and allows your child to engage in nurturing play focused on deepening the parent-child relationship.
- Hape Gourmet Kitchen: Easily one of the most popular toys in my playroom is the Hape Gourmet Kitchen. Toddlers love using their imagination to engage in nurturing and mastery play by creating meals and completing other tasks in the kitchen. This type of play also provides an outlet for children to explore interests and gender roles while connecting with primary caregivers.
- Janod Titus Dog Puzzle: I love the bright non-toxic colors of this puzzle. The Janod dog puzzle helps develop your tot’s fine motor skills, problem solving skills, and is an activity that can be done with primary caregivers to further develop the parent-child relationship and encourage social skills.
- WeeCanToo Veggie Finger Paint: I love using finger paints in my play therapy sessions, as it adds a sensory component that you miss when using paint brushes. These finger paints are safe enough to eat and are therefore ok if your tot gets some in his or her mouth. Finger painting encourages creativity and also helps with the development of fine motor skills.
- Nobodinoz Bowling Set: The Nobodinoz Bowling Set is ideal for toddler aged children as it encourages movement, gross motor development, and hand-eye coordination. This bowling game is great as it can be used indoors or out, meaning a rainy day won’t eliminate the playtime. Bowling games are also good in helping toddlers work on increasing their frustration tolerance while setting up the game and returning the pins to the standing position. Bowling games can also be used to teach pro-social behaviors of taking turns.
- Once Kid Eco Bricks: These bricks are superior to commercial brands as the wooden surfaces are eco-friendly and natural. The bricks are designed to inspire your tot’s creativity and imagination as there is no set pattern to follow therefore freeing your child to use his or her own imagination to create works of art.
- Plan Toys Water Landing Net: Although this toy was developed for use in the bath, I love incorporating water play into regular play time. Water can be very healing and therapeutic in its own right, and allowing children to splash and play either during bath time or other times of the day can help with the release of tensions and emotions. Water toys also encourage active play, thus meeting your tot’s need for movement and exploration. Using water toys helps toddlers develop executive functioning skills of hand-eye coordination and problem solving.
- Plan Toys Banjo Toy: Musical instruments are wonderful toys to incorporate into your child’s play beginning around age 2, when the appropriate motor skills are being developed. Musical instruments provide an outlet for self-expression, creativity, and further develop your tot’s fine motor skills. Playing musical instruments is also linked to increased creativity and intellectual development in toddlers.