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Toys That Teach For Every Age and Stage

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AKA, the only toy guide you'll ever need.

When it comes to buying toys for kids, you start to wonder (and Google), what do they need? What's age appropriate? What will be good for their brain? Before school, it's better that young children learn to flex their imagination, creativity and curiosity rather than their number and literacy. From their first days, sensory and social toys will get their attention. As they progress to be more on-the-move, toys that teach cause and effect, let them make noise and flex fine motor skills become of value. From toddler time, it's about sparking curiosity and imaginative play. In our age-specific toy matrixes, the sides are Open-Ended (toys that in play many roles in play), Sensory (touchy-feely sensations), Fine Motor Skills (toys that encourage co-ordination and skill) and Quiet Time (toys that encourge some chilled self-play). Having toy options from all the quadrants means you're ticking off all their play needs.

Best Toys for 0-6 Months

Even the first toys you give to your child can be educational, not to make them "smarter" or get them to reach milestones before their peers (save that competitive energy for Little Kickers), but to support their brain develop. By the age of 3, a child's brain is 80 percent of it's final adult volume—that's a lot of developing over a short amount of time. When choosing toys for this earliest age, you need to remember, babies explore with their mouth. Toys made from natural materials are important, they need to be safe to be tasted and chewed and have no small parts. At this stage, toys are also parenting tools, nappy change distractors, settling aids and tummy time motivators. They are also instruments of bonding and connection. So it's good to have a strong collection that meet all their, and your, needs.

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SHOP TOYS 0-6 MONTHS

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Best Toys for 6-12 Months

Play should support language and movement in infants in this age group, as they start to move (more and more) toys should aid them in making noise and creating motion. While it's tempting to fill toy box with cute and cuddlies, the main necessary quality of toys for babies between 6 and 12 months is that they be intuiative. Play time is the part of the day when your baby should be in control, so they can discover the effects of their actions and choices. When toys are intuitive and allow them to work on a skill they've developing, they don't need to be shown how to use it. There's also no wrong or right way to use the toys in this age group, it's about them (safely) exploring and discovering.

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SHOP TOYS 6-12 MONTHS

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Best Toys for 12-24 Months

Key to pleasing 1-year-olds is finding toys that will stimulate, surprise and spark interest. The best way to do this is by appealing to their senses. The more senses stimulated in an experience, the more they learn. The first toddler year comes with a lot of physical development (walking, then running, and wanting to push themselves around) so walkers and ride-ons become oft-used. Stroller toys are useful as their little minds need more to keep them entertained (just attach them to the stroller for any toddler testing the "gravity" theory).

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SHOP TOYS 12-24 MONTHS

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Best Toys for 2 Years+

Open-ended and malleable toys become most important for 2-year-olds. You want to help them develop big imaginations, which means giving them the tools (toys) to construct fantastic ideas, turn things on their head, imitate what they see and discover how they like to have fun. The key to this? Don't constrain them. Books become really important to bonding play at this age. 2-year-olds love being read to! Repetitive stories help build phonological awareness and encourage finding patterns, making predictions, learning colors, remembering sequences. Creeping into the three-year bracket, realistic play that connects science and nature, jobs and relationships (like that adorable chicken coop toy) are helpful for little kids learning about the world around them. Similarly, a smattering of puzzles and problem-solving toys help little kids find what they love.

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SHOP TOYS 2 YEARS+

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