Today there’s a lot of emphasis on early development aids.
This isn’t really new as an idea – it’s been around a long time but it has arguably received a major boost recently due to social media discussions of the subject.
To be clear – there is no total consensus on this subject in terms of “the best”! This is simply a personal opinion of things we’ve found really good. We’re also talking about younger toddlers – perhaps up to 3 or so.
These are fantastic for very young toddlers (up to say 24-30 months or so). They have lovely pictures and can be used to tell stories but in addition, each page or panel is made in a variety of textiles which have different touch sensations.
Great for helping a child develop their touch sensory skills.
If you’ve just flinched at the very thought, this isn’t just about kids banging a drum!
There are toys that link dials, buttons and pictures with different tunes – including some of the classics. It’s a good way for younger toddlers to enhance their motor skills and associate pushing buttons or turning knobs with music. It’ll also help introduce them to a wider range of music and not necessarily just the traditional nursery rhymes.
Plastic building blocks
Many adults still enjoy this one! Toddlers will love it because a jumbo bucket of building blocks will help them develop their motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Perhaps more importantly, it also helps young children to learn about the way things are put together and also approaches that just won’t work.
These toys can be a little pricy if you opt for the most prestigious brands but many are far more reasonably priced.
Warning – make sure the blocks are of an appropriate size for the age of the child in order to avoid swallowing/choking risks.
Wooden stacking toys
There are many varieties of these. A classic example might consist of 4-5 poles of different shapes (e.g. triangular, round, square, oblong etc.) in a line with a big bag of multi-coloured and multi-shaped wooden bricks with different hole shapes in the middle.
Bricks will only fit onto the poles of a matching shape but there are a large number of combinations and children will love experimenting with them. That can be hugely beneficial in helping toddlers to discover the basics of geometry and also a little problem solving.
There are plenty of variations, including those that involve fitting shapes into holes on a box.
Warning. Some toys of this type are suitable only for table-top use due to the projecting poles. Read the safety instructions carefully.
Again, plenty of varieties here including electronic versions.
The basic idea is that the children take different routes with loops or beads to get to different parts of the maze.
This is very good for helping children to develop not only fine coordination skills but also their forward visualisation and strategy planning skills.
Around about the age of 3-4, children should be starting to grasp the basics of numbers including counting, which numbers are bigger/smaller and even some basic arithmetic.
There are piles of toys/games around that can help with that. Some involve putting beads in a dish on one side of a scale and then a balancing number of beads on the other side. Get it right and lights flash and funny faces appear with music playing.
This helps get started with the “2+2=4” side of life but in a fun and games context.
A bat and ball
This has been used with toddlers for centuries – and it’s still very effective.
Playing basic games with your toddler involving simple soft bats and balls helps you to bond with them and above all, gets them exercise. It also is simply fantastic for helping them to develop hand-eye co-ordination and a spirit of co-operative play.
Don’t ignore this last one – it has stood the test of time!