As the holiday season approaches, you may be wondering what to give your baby for Christmas. Of course, the answer largely depends on your little one’s age, as each developmental stage brings new curiosities and interests. It’s essential to choose age-appropriate toys for your baby, not only to ensure their enjoyment but also to promote their motor development. Here’s the 2023 guide to toys from pediatric physiotherapists at Nxt Génération Physio Clinic! We’ll present here the types of toys we particularly like to use based on the age of the little ones we see in the clinic. This guide focuses on babies from 0 to 12 months.
For babies aged 0 to 3 months, the focus with play will mainly be on auditory and visual information. At this age, babies are particularly receptive to sound and visual stimuli. Toys that make noise, high-contrast black and white toys for the little ones, and those that shine are wise choices. A soft, high-contrast black and white mat can also be very useful for encouraging the prone position while awake, a crucial moment in development.
At 4 months, babies have symmetrical motor development. There is also a beginning of body exploration with the discovery of their hands, abdomen, and knees. Their head will be centered on their body, and they begin to be able to grasp toys with both hands simultaneously. Opt for toys that encourage this discovery and strengthen their body awareness while promoting the development of symmetry.
At 5-6 months, the baby’s vision improves, and they begin to develop their grip while exploring their own body. Toys that make sounds, can be banged together, transferred from one hand to another, and can be safely put in the mouth are appropriate choices. Small bracelets or ‘rattle’ socks also encourage the gripping of feet and knees, thus stimulating the strengthening of their abdominals. Additionally, at this age, the baby will start to smile at their image in the mirror. Small mirrors used in the prone position can encourage the little one to maintain this position longer during wakefulness.
When your baby reaches 7 to 9 months, they start to change positions more and may even begin to show signs of wanting to sit up and crawl on their own. Opt for bright toys that allow and encourage your baby to free an arm while on their tummy, which strengthens their muscles for sitting and future crawling. In the sitting position, easy-to-grasp and manipulate toys can encourage the little one to develop this position. Moreover, at these ages, household objects can be just as interesting to your baby as conventional toys. However, be aware that a very amusing game for little ones at this age is to drop objects on the floor, so nothing breakable!
Finally, around 10 to 12 months, babies start to develop more specific preferences. Dolls, balls, and interlocking toys can capture their attention and stimulate their burgeoning imagination.
Choosing toys for your baby at Christmas can be an exciting experience, as each stage of their development offers new possibilities for exploration and play. Opt for age-appropriate toys to ensure optimal enjoyment while stimulating their motor development.
Note, the photos included in the text are for example purposes; there is a wide variety of suitable toys!