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  • Playtime! Here Are The Best Toys For Your Kids' Brain Development From 0-5

    Toys play a crucial role in your child’s brain development
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
Playtime! Here Are The Best Toys For Your Kids' Brain Development From 0-5
PHOTO BY /SHUTTERSTOCK (RIGHT) AND LEGO (LEFT)
  • We all know that play is very important in the different stages of a child’s development

    Providing them with smart and age-appropriate toys that stimulate their developing brains, encourage exploration, stir their imagination, and enhance their fine and gross motor skills to meet their many milestones is just as crucial.  

    From zero to five years of age, toys will continue to play a role in their development whether they play alone, with you, or with their playmates. 

    Playing is learning

    According to the American Academic of Pediatrics publications titled Pediatrics, research shows that developmentally appropriate play with parents and peers is “a singular opportunity to promote the social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills that build executive function and a prosocial brain.” 

    Play enhances brain structure and function and promotes executive function (i.e., the process of learning, rather than the content), which allows us to pursue goals and ignore distractions, it adds.

    Understanding how a child plays at every stage of his growth can guide parents on the best kinds of toys to choose. 

    Best developmental toys for each age group

    Parents explains how children play at every age and the perfect toys that will match the different stages of their development. 

    0-12 months: Sounds and textures

    From 0-3 months a baby’s sight will still be blurry and he won’t be able to do much other than observe his surroundings. But as she grows older, she will enjoy toys that stimulate the senses and promote interaction and engagement. 

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    Toys that make a sound, have different textures, and that are safe to explore using the mouth are what you want them to play with.

    Recommended toys: 

    - Bright colored crib mobiles

    - Rattles

    - Fabric balls

    - Stuffed toys

    - Unbreakable mirrors

     

    PHOTO BY /SHUTTERSTOCK

    1-2 years: Interaction

    “Children at this stage are fascinated by cause and effect,” parents.com quotes psychologist Robin Goodman, Ph.D., director of NYU Child Study Center's Website, www.aboutourkids.org. 

    “(A toddler) will enjoy any toy that responds to his actions and makes use of newly acquired motor skills," he adds. 

    At these ages, children will love interactive toys such as balls that they can hit using a hammer or hi-tech ones with buttons that respond with a letter, words, or a number when pressed. 

    You will also understand at this stage why your toddler keeps reaching out for that remote control in the middle of your Netflix movie. Buttons do the trick.

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    Recommended toys:

    - Stacking rings

    - Push and pull toys that make noises, pop up, or move

    - Hammering pegs

    - Different musical instruments

    - Toys with wheels 

    2-3 years old: Purposeful and pretend play

    Around this time, children would have developed the fine motor skills to engage in purposeful play such as solving puzzles or building blocks. 

    Pretend play and imitating other children and adults will also become more common. 

    This is also the time when they start playing in a “gender-stereotypical way” where girls may pretend to feed their dolls and boys shovels sand into a dump truck. 

    Recommended toys

    - Dolls and stuffed toys

    - Toys that make real sounds like telephone, fire trucks with sirens or honks, and talking dolls

    - Toys they can ride on like tricycles

    - Musical instruments

    - Toys that connect together like Lego or Duplo

    PHOTO BY /LEGO PH

    4-5 years: Math and verbal skills

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    Educational and interactive toys fit best for these ages as learning happens in leaps and bounds. 

    Around this time, introduce them to toys that will expose them to math and verbal skills. This is also a time when they fantasize a lot and start having role models and aspirations like becoming a pilot, teacher, doctor, fire fighter, etc. 

    Fine and gross motor skills are also well developed by now such as running fast, shooting or hitting a ball, hopping on one foot, copying and printing letters, and drawing a person with body parts. 

    Recommended toys:

    - Art and crafts supplies

    - Electronic phonics toys

    - Action figures and dolls like Barbies

    - Dress up toys

    - More complex construction toys like Lincoln Logs 

    - Lego sets that carry themes like adventure (Ninjago collection), action (LEGO Technic and LEGO City sets), and the environment (41707 Friends Tree-planting Vehicle) 

    Don’t forget, playmates are just as important as the toys, too. Sure, give them an environment and space where they can play freely and solitarily but invite other kids to come over, too.

    Or join them once in a while because playing with others provides the foundation on how they relate with people in the future. 

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