Toy suggestions for 0-2 years old

We often get asked what sort of toys we’d suggest for the youngest members in your families in the 0-2 age group. At this stage, although it’s ideal to offer them a range of toys, it’s also best to keep it as simple as possible. The whole world is still new and exciting to them and they really don’t need the loudest, most colourful and interactive of toys off the shelf. Take a look below at some of the toys we have available for this age group that will work well.  

Birth to 6 months

At this age, babies are using their senses to explore what toys do when you bang, roll or drop them, what the textures feel like on their fingers or mouths, or how they sound when moved. They’re working out (or playing out) how things relate to each other in their environment. From about four months, they’ll start to grasp things and from around nine months, that little pincher grip is starting to make an appearance. Although their primary caregivers will be their most favourite toy for a while yet, other popular choices we have at the library include the below.  

Rattles: Cause and effect, promote gross motor milestones

Mirrors: Great for tummy time, encourages babies to pat, point and reach which supports hand-eye coordination

Activity cubes: Keep baby busy during tummy time 

And to save mama’s sanity while cooking dinner, folding laundry, or just having a much-needed cup of tea: Evenflo Excersaucer

7 – 12 months

Everything is still very new and exciting to our tamariki as they continue to learn about the world around them. Cause and effect toys will make those little minds light up in wonder, and push-pull toys support their move towards strengthening those key muscles needed for crawling and walking. For developing their fine motor skills, toys that they can pull apart or stack are the ones to look out for. And hello, repetition, repetition, repetition!   

Bead mazes: Develop dexterity and hand-eye coordination, improves visual memory

Tolo Clown Carousel: Colour recognition, dexterity, hand eye and co-ordination, memory, touching and gripping.

Activity centres: Improves critical thinking, fine motor skills and memory. With the larger more stable ones, supports in strengthening key muscles as they pull themselves up

Stacking cups: Supports hand-eye coordination, bilateral coordination, confidence, counting and language (up, down, fall, pass etc)

Simple Montessori puzzles and slot toys: Helps to develop basic skills like shape recognition, concentration, goal setting, patience and a sense of achievement 

1 – 1.5 years

For this age, as well as toys that encourage movement, this is when pretend play starts to occur. Babies will be tucked into bed, and trains will make choo-choo noises as your child’s understanding that each item serves a purpose continues to grow. Plus, you’ll also notice that repetition still remains a big theme as they continue to embed their learnings. Toys that are bright, colourful, and fun for little hands to hold will be well received at this age.

Toys with wheels like our super fun Wheely bumble bee: Facilitate the development of balance and coordination

Rock-a-stack: Grasping, shaking, discovery, fine motor skills 

Car ramps: Cause and effect, supporting hand-eye coordination 

Blocks: Supports hand-eye coordination, bilateral coordination, confidence, counting and language, concentration, emotional development (it’s pretty disappointing when that big tower collapses)

Role play toys: Develop communication, social skills and confidence, helps to make sense of real-life scenarios

Up to 2 years old

At this stage, it’s important to start providing toys that are ‘open-ended’ and can be used in a variety of ways. With their growing differentiation of colors and shapes, toys that encourage this are also ideal. Aim for toys that spark imagination and help them to develop problem-solving and logical thinking skills. ‘Real stuff’ will continue to remain a winner too as your toddler continues to theorise on how things work in their world.    

Imaginative play like animals, dinosaurs, trains, dolls, dress-up, kitchens: Beneficial to social and cognitive development, and creativity

We’re here to help – so do speak to one of our wonderful volunteers on session if you need us to point you in the right direction of where toys might be found, or are looking for some more suggestions.