Holiday Toy Ideas

Updated: Nov 5, 2021

Buying holiday toys or giving gift ideas to family members can be challenging when you aren't sure what is developmentally appropriate for your child. It is important to understand the WHY behind the toys. This quick guide will give you a brief run down of the benefits of each of the toys posted.

Key Terms:

  • bilateral coordination: using both sides of the body together. These are tasks that require you to use both of your hands.

  • motor planning: this is how our brain knows how to do things but we only know those things because of creating a motor plan. Children are learning their environment and how to navigate it. They are learning depth and where things are in space. Motor planning helps them to coordinate those movements and then it stores them for the next time they need that motor plan.

  • base of support: base of support is where the body connects with a surface. For example, when sitting, their base of support is through their pelvis, crawling their base of support is through their knees and hands, walking the base of support is through their feet.

All links to the toys will be provided with the description. All toys can be purchased on Amazon.

0-6 months

  • Rattle: helps with grasp and release, auditory and visual stimulation by shaking it. You can also use it to help your baby visually track side to side, up and down.

  • Light Up Bar: helps with attention during tummy time, teaches cause and effect when pushing the buttons, visual and auditory stimulation

  • Textured stacking rings: tactile stimulation, visual and fine motor skills, grasp and release

  • Wonder Wheel: provides visual stimulation, benefits visual tracking while maintaining attention side to side, up and down, fine motor skills to spin the wheel

  • Textured Teethers: assists with oral motor development, helps with teething and developing oral exploration skills

  • Ring Links: works on fine motor coordination, bilateral coordination (using both hands together)

6-12 months

  • Textured Shape Sorter: the textures help provide tactile input, helps develop fine motor and visual motor by having to look, grasp and problem solve to pull the toy out or push it in. It also addresses motor planning

  • Simple Knob Puzzle: this helps with building upon fine motor skills by being able to grasp the knob and take the puzzle piece out and put it back in and they use their visual motor skills to also look at what they are doing

  • Stacking Cups: these help build shoulder strength and stability when reaching up to stack , they need visual motor skills in order to see where they are stacking, helps with establishing a motor plan for stacking

  • Suction Cup Spinners: these are a fun way to work on gross motor skills (kneeling, sitting, crawling), it also addresses core strength when having to sit and reach outside of their base of support, it works on fine motor skills by having to reach, isolate fingers to push down to spin, they also need their visual motor skills to help them find the spinners and provides visual stimulation

  • Gootensils for Feeding: these promotes self feeding, no wrong way to hold the spoon, helps with body awareness (knowing where their mouth is) and provides a sense of independence (THIS IS ONE OF MY ALL TIME FAVORITES!)

  • Pop Up Toy: works on fine motor skills by having to learn how to navigate each pop up toy and it helps them understand cause and effect

12-24 months

  • Ball and Hammer: this is a super fun toy that teaches cause and effect, upper body strength to hit the balls down and core strength! You can work on this in sitting, kneeling or standing with it on an elevated surface

  • Peg Inserts: this cute little hedgehog is so good for developing multiple skills. It can address fine motor by using a pincer grasp pattern to place into the peg hole, visual motor skills and motor planning skills to accurately place the peg into the peg hole and requires attention to the task

  • Mega Bloks: these help with developing age appropriate bilateral coordination skills (using both hands to place on top), fine motor skills by grasping and holding the blocks, visual motor and motor planning by being able to motor plan where to place the block while using vision, core strength if playing in sitting, standing or kneeling

  • Pull Along Wagon: the pull along toy is great for multiple reasons! It mainly addresses gross motor skills such as walking, but also works on balance, fine motor skills to hold the string or handle and teaches cause and effect (pull it and it moves forward)

  • Sit N Scoot: these are so fun for implementing vestibular (movement) input, gross motor skills to use their legs to walk/push themselves forward, body awareness to know where their body is in space, spacial awareness of not running into things as well as motor planning

  • Crawling Tunnel: there are so many different things you can do with tunnels! It helps with gross motor skills (crawling), body awareness and motor planning to know where their body is and what they need to do to move forward or backwards

3-5 years:

  • Sensory table: A must-have in an OT's opinion! It addresses the tactile and visual systems, you could even make it scented! It also helps with fine motor skills and hand strength (squeezing sand or playdoh), it also helps with imaginary play!

  • Color Sorting w/ Tweezers: helps build fine motor strength and coordination, visual motor and memory for color sorting or making patterns and attention to task

  • Balance Bike: this is a step up from the sit n scoot. It addresses pretty much the same things; core strength, gross motor, balance and body awareness

  • Jigsaw Puzzles: At 3, children should be able to complete up to a 20 piece puzzle. You can start with a 4 piece then 8 piece then 12 piece and so on. It addresses visual motor skills having to match pictures and turn the piece to fit, fine motor skills to turn the piece with their hands to fit and attention to the task

  • Doodle Pad: these are super fun for drawing or working on handwriting development, improving pencil grasp and visual motor skills.

  • Beading: this uses bilateral coordination (both sides of the body together), fine motor to hold the string and visual motor look and find the hole to put the string in

Additional Toys from other websites:

  • LovEvery: this is a subscription based service that is a PERFECT gift to give someone for the holidays. They send them developmentally appropriate toys every 2 months.

Check them out!

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