In our home, we have baskets upon baskets of toys. There are the eco toys, large plastic toys, handcrafted...the type where some sweet craftsperson in a quiet town patiently and skillfully made an exquisite wooded piece for your little one. Like most parents, we have many options. In the end, our youngest plays with the same toys every day and tends to favor only a handful. His early favorite was a wooden vase that is part of our living room decor, and it is the first thing his speech therapist told me had to go, immediately. I promptly took the vase away which my young detective child quickly found every time I hid his favorite 'toy'. I soon realized if the vase makes my babe happy why can't he play with it? The reason is the repetitive behavior, explained the therapist, this could be a sign of a condition. A sign that perhaps my child is on the spectrum or has a delay. Ahhh, welcome to Early Intervention.
Frankly, if you ever had a child in Early Intervention, you get accustomed to hearing what may or may not be the challenge that your child is facing. The therapists are there to help, but this doesn't solve the issue that your child wants to play, be it with a traditional toy or with a paperclip. So how does one find the right toys that will help developmentally and in our case will take the place of the wooded vase? What sort of toys will make my babe happy while supporting his development? I have been down this road before with my oldest who had many delays and did not talk until almost 4. Delays in young children can be quite stressful, and there were many tears shed (boatloads actually) however I fought for the right therapies, embraced the toys he loved and activities that worked for him and now he is a fast-talking third grade A student. My feeling is if my child has a developmental issue be it a condition, speech, social, sensory, our youngest is quite young so for my husband and myself we are just figuring it all out, how do I or any parent in the same situation go about it in the play world?
Ask the experts is the answer. These savvy women have either started companies either from their journeys on searching for the right toys for their children to an expert who has been giving parents trusted products for well over a decade to a teacher who has a background in child education. These toy whisperers make it their mission to find or design toys that support kids in their developmental stages or highlight a toy that may help if they have a delay or gravitate to a particular type of toy. What I loved most about these experts is they 'get it' when it comes to the anxiety a parent may feel when seeking the right toys for our kids. When I explained to each one about my toddler son and the challenge I found myself in choosing the right toys for him, I received reassurance and sage advice on what sorts of toys he needed.
Whether your child has a delay or your mom gut tells you that your kids want what they want and will learn on their timeline rest assure there are great toys out there for your little one. Here are 6 of our favs from the experts, please visit their sites for more suggestions and toys.
Carissa Tozzi and Gena Mann founded WOLF + FRIENDS with the belief that all children's developmental needs are unique. WOLF + FRIENDS is a modern lifestyle platform for kids of all abilities. Their mission is to create an informative, imaginative, and inclusive shopping experience that will give parents the unique opportunity to design a lifestyle that will match where their child is in their development.
Allison Kelin from Rose & Rex founded this teacher-curated toy boutique and play resource. Allison who has a dual M.S.ED degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education believes in supporting all facets of development through open-ended play with imaginative toys. With every toy sold Rose & Rex give back to their partner organization Second Chance Toys to ensure that every purchase makes a positive impact.
Jessica Rolph, a founding partner of Happy Family, is now the co-creator of Lovevery. Jessica started Lovevery to help create developmental experiences in the lives of new babies and families by focusing on products that help brain development starting at the earliest stage. Jessica has learned from her research that early development experiences in very young children don't just happen on their own, you have to create them.
WOLF + FRIENDS
Fidget toys and tools help kids focus by filtering out extraneous sensory information. By keeping their hands busy, children that have trouble self-regulating are better able to "Tune Out" sensory input that can be distracting to them. Squishy toys make great fidget toys for kids of all ages. This set comes with 20, so you can introduce new ones as needed or have a back-up when one goes missing. They are super soft, fun to squeeze and make a great stress reliever. Ages 3 and older.
Hape Gourmet Kitchen Kid's Wooden Play Kitchen in White
The best toys for early speech and language development are those that create opportunities for language that is rich and meaningful in context. Look for toys, like a pretend play kitchen, that inspire children to request, show, share, role play, problem solve, ask for help and make plans. You can also use the opportunity to focus on basic kitchen vocabulary including nouns (plate, cup, fork, knife, apple, bread, chicken, etc), verbs (cut, pour, wash, dry, stir, bake, freeze, etc), opposites (hot/cold, wet/dry, big/little, full/empty, etc.). Ages 36 months to 5 years.
Jupiduu - The lovely design children´s Natural Wooden See-Saw
When a child plays on a slide, they will develop gross motor skills, confidence, independence, and social skills. And an indoor slide is perfect when the weather makes it difficult to play outside. A slide allows the opportunity for children to practice taking turns—You can give your child words to use such as “it's my turn” and “do you want to go first? When your child to walks up the slide they are building core strength. And when your child slides down on their belly, it's another opportunity for tummy time, in which your child builds strength, coordination, and confidence. AGES 2-5
Rose & Rex
Nou Nou the Bear
Nou Nou the Bear is a re-imagined classic favorite that will stay with your little one as he or she grows. This Fuzzy Bear handmade by Bla Bla has a uniquely soft and irresistible texture. Created from 100% cotton thread that they engineered themselves, each piece is hand embroidered with splashes of color which gives it that extra special touch!
Young children learn through sensory exploration. Nou Nou offers a variety of textures that stimulate the senses. The tufts of fabric and fringe is soothing for many children. In addition, Nou Nou's scale supports physical development as young children will have to stretch and work to move him. Finally, plush pals like Nou Nou are more than just cuddly buddies. They can be used to support early attachment experiences, navigate transitions and encourage language skills.
Gross Motor Development for kids ages 4 to 6
Transportation toys effortlessly rev up a child’s imagination, from exploring what makes them move to dreaming of their destination. More than just a prop, this push toy is a vehicle for building essential physical and mental skills, including gross motor development (watch as they move around the room) and communication and storytelling (Where is this car headed? Who is the driver?). Time for a road trip!)
Developmental Brain Motor Skills
The Play Gym
Lovevery employed the best child development experts to help design this Play Mat to promote brain and motor skills. This play gym can be used starting from 0 to the toddler ages.
The Play Gym is crafted of safe baby materials and consists of 24 stage-based activities that include an organic ball & teether, sustainable wood batting toy, four interchangeable learning card sets - black & white, body, objects, and mirrors. This play mat focuses on Five development zones that reveal or conceal to prevent overstimulation and promote learning:
Learning to focus
How things feel
Hiding and finding
Play Space Cover for imaginative play
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