With experts agreeing that young children do most of their learning and growth through unstructured play, it’s not surprising that parents can be confused about which toys are best for a baby’s quickly-developing noggin. Dr. Deborah Weber, Ph.D. and senior manager of child research at Fisher-Price, recommends that parents look for toys with a few key features to help their children thrive and develop.

imagesHere are her best tips for navigating the toy aisle:

Problem solved: Toys that help organize, sort or involve a puzzle situation can be great tools to help babies start to develop the concentration and problem-solving skills they’ll need when they venture into school and adulthood. Look for the types of toys that have adjustable skill levels – so they can change to mirror your baby’s development.

Reality bites: Choose toys that encourage children to imitate real life. Consider toys that are interactive like the new Smart Stages tea set or piggy bank that educate, entertain and grow along with your children. This gives your baby the chance to learn about the world around them by bringing everyday objects to their level.

Music to baby’s ears: Children love getting their groove on. Choosing toys that emit different sounds and fun musical tunes will keep your child giggling while learning all sorts of new jingles and jangles. Playing with toys that have action words, games and songs is a great way to improve baby’s coordination and start language development.

Creative genius: Brightly coloured toys and tools that allow children to experiment with art – be it crayons, paints, paper or even play dough – all are great for exercising the imagination and help develop manual dexterity. These types of toys also present a fun activity for older and younger siblings to do together and learn from each other.

Written by Cleo Neufeld

Cleo Neufeld

Before meeting the love of her life, Cleo was a single mother to a beautiful little girl for many years. She shares her expertise in single parenting, building a relationship, living on a budget and more.