The Best Toys That Boost Development

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Before I had Harrison, I did not want my house cluttered with toys. I wanted a few toys and that was it. After Harrison came along and I realized he needed and still does need a little extra motivation to do certain things, my mind was quickly changed. I began a vigorous search for the best toys to boost development. Does it make sound? Does it light up? Are the colors bright enough?

Now that I’ve narrowed down the best toys to boost my kids' development physically and mentally, I’ve gotten rid of a lot of toys to fulfill my original vision. Harrison likes to throw toys, so the more toys I have the more that end up thrown on the ground not played with. While we are still decluttering toys and figuring out what actually challenges them, I’ve come up with a list of toys, besides books and puzzles, he and his brother actually did (and still do) play with!

#1 Infantino Twist and Fold Activity Gym Aka a tummy time mat. I can’t stress the importance of tummy time for babies. Harrison’s physical and occupational therapists were great at encouraging and explaining the importance of tummy time for ALL kids (not just kids with special needs) in every area of development. This little mat has been through all three of my boys. William currently spends a lot of his time there while the boys play around him and throw give toys to him. The colors and patterns on this particular mat are engaging and motivating enough for babies to enjoy tummy time and the hanging animals and music encourages reaching when they are on their back. Experts recommend NO more than 15-20 minutes a day in activity walkers/exersaucers, so getting kids on the floor is a topic that I’m really passionate about due to the lack of education given to new parents about this subject. 
Harrison playing with Brooks on their tummy time mat.
#2 SmartNoggin NogginStik Developmental Light-up Rattle If you only get one toy for your infant, get this. This rattle is everything you need besides a tummy time mat for a baby. The black, white, yellow, and red colors helped Harrison learn to track, then reach, then grab, then learn to touch the face to light up (the light up feature is the best!). When Harrison was a baby, he liked to look on one side better than the other; this rattle helped immensely with that issue. It even comes with activities for parents to do with their babies. It IS a little pricey, but is so worth it. This one is similar, but doesn't light up and has a teething ring at the end; I just bought this one for William because he's chewing on his hands constantly! 
Harrison and our former cat playing with the learning ball

#4 VTech Light and Move Learning Ball Ya’ll. This is the toy that got my kid with Down syndrome sitting up to inchworming to finally crawling. Harrison played with this so much, we had to replace it twice! When he actually started walking, we put it away for good because he would resort back to crawling when he saw it. I remember hiding this for a few weeks at different times so he would actually play with his other toys and work on other stages of his development. 
#3 Fat Brain Toys Tobbles Neo  This is amazing for working on stacking. Stacking can be difficult for kids to grasp as it requires them to place an object exactly just so or it will tumble. With this toy, you can place the object almost anywhere and it will stay up! This is very motivating for kids who are having trouble stacking. When a child succeeds in stacking, he or she is more encouraged to continue. Both my kids still LOVE this toy and it’s helped Harrison a lot in his fine motor development. 
Brooks stacking the Tobbles

#5 Fisher-Price Bright Beats Learnin' Lights Dance Mat This is what motivated Brooks to start army crawling when he was only 6 1/2 months old! The bright lights and big buttons that are easy to push encourages interaction and dancing. If you follow my Instagram, you know that Harrison LOVES to dance and calms almost instantly down with music. This has ABC songs and gets the kids to try to push the right colors when it is called out; Harrison is still fascinated with the bright lights and music. Besides books and puzzles, it's his go-to toy when he's upset. 

#6 Fat Brain Toys Squigz & Magnet Tiles These Squigz are amazing for developing strength in those tiny finger muscles. It also encourages imagination and creativity as the kids create different and really strange unique creations. The Magnet Tiles are also a huge hit. They, too, encourage building fun creations (for adults, too). This is a great toy rotation toy; when I pull these out after a few months of them being in the cabinet, the kids are entertained for days! 
Harrison and Brooks with the Dance Mat

#7 Activity Table I couldn't find the activity table that we have because it’s probably not available anymore, but this one seems similar enough. Activity tables have been great for the boys to learn to pull to stand and cruise around. The fun songs and buttons to push encourage them to want to continue standing and eventually stand without holding on!  They still love pushing the buttons and dancing around the playroom; I can’t wait to see William learn to pull to stand and cruise using this. Oh, wait, I actually can wait.    
#8 Mega Bloks Mega Bloks. Harrison and Brooks ask me (more like pointing and signing) to get these down from the shelf daily. We play so many different games with them like ‘name the color block’, ‘sort the blocks into the different colors', ‘sort the blocks into small and big blocks’, ‘build a tower and knock it down’, and ‘who can clean up the most blocks’ (my favorite). I love Mega Bloks because kids can play with them at a very early age and it builds those coordination and dexterity skills.  
Harrison finding the red blocks from the Mega Bloks
#8 Shape Sorter We have this one in a different color and the boys love it! Brooks totes it around and plops down to push the shapes in. When he was younger, he used it a lot to lean on as he was learning to sit up. This is perfect for problem solving, hand-eye coordination, and starting to develop those critical thinking skills.  While they aren’t quite old enough to insert the shapes, the colorful and easy-to-grasp shapes are fun for even infants! I've also seen a few friends use this shape sorter; its fun because it zips so it can also help kids develop zipping skills.  
Brooks playing with the Shape Sorter 
and sitting up at only 4 1/2 months!

    #10 YOU. Remember that kids don’t really NEED toys. Toys can get pricey! Kids end up playing with household objects much to your dismay; however, picking out toys that boost development will be challenging to your kids and they will be more likely to play with it. YOU are your child’s greatest toy. Playing peek-a-boo, singing songs, playing hide-and-seek, the list is endless!   
    What are your favorite toys for development?


    1. Great list here, the tummy time jungle gym was a hit at our house, and traditional wood blocks.

      1. Thanks! We love our tummy time gym so much here. Blocks are so much fun!

    2. It is amazing how advanced toys are nowadays! I love all the bright colors!

    3. These are all great recommendations and perfect for my two nieces! Going to forward this post to both my sisters for their little ones.

    4. My son's first 'developmental' toy was My First Leap from Leap Frog. I became such a huge fan of Leap Frog afterwards that almost all of his toys during that age were from Leap Frog.

    5. These are great suggestions. I will definitely have to explore some of these for my 1 year old.

    6. This is a really informative post that I am sure will help a lot of new parents out with what to buy for toys/development.

    7. There's nothing better than to give kids toys that can help them learn and develop some much needed skills. I love all of these and I'm definitely recommending them to parents!

    8. oh wow, kids toys are so creatively advanced and help in developing skills. thank you for sharing these tips

    9. Wow development truly boosted here! loads of great toys that seem like they are really educational and beneficial. Lovely pics too!

    10. These sound great! Going to pass this on to my kid-haver friends :) Thanks so much for sharing.

    11. Oh wow. this looks great. My baby would love this. I need to have this

    12. This is a great round up! I am totally going to try to find the equivalent of these in my side of the world. Thanks a bunch for sharing this <3

    13. We have a lot of those activity tables in the nursery I work at. They offer so much to our kiddos!

    14. Wow! These would be another great choice of toys for our love little ones. The colors are truly attractive and will surely entice kids.

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