by Staff Writer
Babies and toddlers are filled with curiosity and are ready to learn about the world. Toys help little ones develop problem solving and motor skills, all while allowing their imaginations to soar. The best baby toys require children to use more than one sense at a time; new sounds and textures will encourage children to explore the world around them. Be creative; many ordinary household items can be the best kind of learning toys.
Wood blocks: Building blocks are one of the most versatile toys for small children. Blocks encourage pre-toddlers to develop fine motor and basic spatial reasoning skills. Building blocks with printed letters and numbers are also a good introduction to basic literacy and math.
Water toys: Water toys provide a very tactile way for children under two to learn new concepts. A set of plastic stacking cups in the bath or a bucket of water and a shovel in the sandbox are fun ways to help children explore concepts of volume, texture, and simple physics.
Wood puzzles: Puzzles are a great way for children to develop problem-solving skills. Start with wooden puzzles with just three or four large pieces depicting animals or other well-known shapes. The pictures on the puzzle will encourage shape recognition and memory. As the child's abilities improve, slowly add puzzles with more pieces to his collection. Children with undeveloped motor skills can work on puzzles with pegged pieces.
Toy bricks: Watch children get creative with large, interlocking bricks or blocks made of plastic, cardboard, or rubber. These colorful pieces have tabs that hook onto each other and allow kids to build sturdy structures. These help kids develop measurement and fine motor skills.
Pots and wooden spoons: You can find all sorts of toy combinations in your own household to entertain and teach your child. While it may sound like just noise to you, an impromptu drum set may be the best kind of toy to your child. These toys will help your child learn rhythm, counting, and hand-eye coordination. Remember, children learn by watching but also by doing. Teach your kids what to do, then watch as they take it a step further and experiment on their own.