December Gift Guide: Part 1

We all know when the holidays roll around it is easy to become overwhelmed by the number of toys and gadgets on the market. How do you know which toys are appropriate for your child's age and developmental level? That's where we come in. As pediatric therapy staff, we have collaborated to select our favorite toys for your child for each stage of life to support their developmental milestones.

In Part 1 of this series, we describe milestones and gift ideas for children aged 0-18 months. In Part 2, we explore what to expect for children all the way to age 5!

0-6 months:

Motor milestones: At this age, babies are becoming increasingly aware of their environment. By 3-5 months, babies should bring both hands together at midline, pick up and hold toys, and maintain their balance while sitting. The following toys encourage the development of these skills by promoting grasping (single-handed and two hands together), reaching, and postural strengthening.

Speech milestones: Around 0-3 months, children should start to watch speakers' faces, turn their heads to the sound source, and smile. Children 3-6 months should start cooing and yelling/shrieking. These skills can be targeted by spending time face-to-face with your child (book reading, tummy time)

  1. Light Bar activity station
  2. Rattles
  3. O-ball
  4. Hanging toys/activity station
  5. Touch and feel books
  6. Tummy time mirror

7-9 months:

Motor milestones: At this stage of life, a child should be able to sit unsupported and weight shift to either side to reach for a toy. He or she should bring two hands together to hold a toy and use a raking motion to pick up small objects. The following toys promote bilateral coordination (using two hands together in sync) and reaching.

Speech milestones: Children should start to respond to their name when called, reach for items to show interest, and start babbling (mamama, dadada, bababa, etc.). 

  1. Jumbo ring stacker
  2. Toy "bin"
  3. Bristle bocks
  4. Spinning Squigz

10-15 months:

Motor milestones: By this time, a child should be able to stand, unsupported, clap hands together, and pick up and release toys into a container. A child around 12 months should begin to place shapes in a shape sorter or simple puzzle and scribble on paper. The following toys promote age-appropriate grasping skills, grasp and release, and visual motor skills.

Speech milestones: Children should start to show an understanding of approximately 50 words. Around 12 months, children should start to say 1 word. These skills can be targeted with nursery rhymes and introducing simple ASL signs, "more" "done." 

  1. Piggy bank
  2. Board books
  3. Spinning ring stacker
  4. Dot markers
  5. Spike the Hedgehog
  6. Shape sorter
  7. Pip squeak marker set

15-18 months:

Motor milestones: During this developmental stage, a child should be walking independently including beginning to walk up steps, drink from an open cup, eat with a spoon, and stack 2-3 blocks. A child around 18 months should begin to pretend to use real-life items appropriately (i.e., Picking up a phone and pretending to talk on it, pretending to wipe counter with a cloth). The following toys promote the development of pretend play skills, improve bilateral coordination and visual motor skills through matching, and hand strength and coordination for placing and pulling suction cup toys.

Speech milestones: Children 12-15 months should start to say 5-10 words, imitate and use gestures to get their wants and needs met and attempt to imitate sounds in play. 15-18 months children should start to imitate simple words (ball, mama, up), and start to follow 1-step directions. Families can start to include their toddlers in helping with simple chores and teach them body parts, clothing items, and animals. 

  1. Farm animals
  2. Snap-n-Learn fruit shapers
  3. Shape sorting cupcakes
  4. Squigz
  5. Stacking blocks