Toy Buying Guide: Choosing The Right Toys For Your Child At The Store

When your child is growing, toys can benefit their development while also keeping them entertained and happy. But as each stage of bub’s development brings various skills, it’s important to choose age-appropriate options at the toy store. 

For example, your child may lose interest in the infant toys you surprised them with back then once they grow into a toddler. Conversely, baby doll toys for older children will likely be made of hard materials and may not be the best newborn gift ideas.

Indeed, different ages mean your child will interact with toys differently and have varied interests. And because play is essential to their physical, social, emotional, and mental development, it’s more than just finding something they’ll have fun with. The answer lies in a toy that is both stimulating and safe, too.

Furthermore, you don’t want a toy that’s too overcomplicated. With simpler toys, the more opportunities your child has to explore their imaginations while playing. 

In this article, you’ll learn about which toys are most suitable for various age ranges and why they’re a good choice for that particular age, from when they’re a cute baby to an energetic toddler. This will help you when you’re browsing for toys at the store.

Newborn to 6-month baby toys

Adorable baby lying down on a playmat

Babies enjoy watching people around them and love to focus on faces. Additionally, they love bright and bold colours as their vision is still a little blurred. These colours contrast with one another and will grab their interest. 

Towards the 6-month mark, they’ll learn to grab things with their hands and put them in their mouths in preparation for the weaning process. They will likely have begun teething, too.

Understanding all of this, here are some fantastic options from newborn to 6-month baby toys:

1. Mobiles

Mobile is a perfect addition to any crib, especially when it offers a variety of sensory stimulation, such as music and colour. When bub reaches out to these mobile toys, they can master hand-eye (or foot-eye) coordination at the same time. It will keep them entertained and settled in their bed for ages while helping their auditory and visual senses to develop. It’s essential to note that once they can sit up on their own, you need to remove the mobile for safety reasons. 

2. Playmats 

One of the most popular baby toys is the play mat. They’re a great way for your child to play and learn at the same time, with many allowing you to hang various detachable dolls and soft toys for babies for them to grab at and hit. Each item (stuffed toys, mirrors, etc.) offers different textures and colours that will stimulate their senses and keep them busy for a long time. And the base is padded and soft for their comfort. This means they can also roll on their back, crawl and attempt to walk easily, allowing for motor skills development.

3. Plush toys

Plush toys have been a go-to newborn gift for many years with the overwhelming variety and soft texture. Soft toys for babies can become long-lasting in their collection, and they may keep them for many years to come. From bunnies and lions to dinosaurs, princesses, lambs, and more, there are endless options for finding the perfect stuffed toy for your little one. These also have significant developmental benefits too. For instance, when your child plays with soft toys, they learn how to build relationships. They’ll also personify them, giving them names and imagining certain characteristics they’ll embody. This relationship then opens doors to various social skills, such as showing empathy and learning how to share. Through this relationship-building process and pretend conversations, your little ones will find their own ways to express their emotions in a familiar language, honing their speech delivery while learning how to translate their thoughts into words. 

4. Rattles 

You really can't go wrong with rattles as infant toys. They’re so much more interesting nowadays, too, coming in bold, bright colours and offering different textures and designs that your baby will absolutely adore. For example, the Playgro Clip Clop activity rattle comes with click-clack beads, a mirror for bubs to see themselves in, crinkly sounds within the soft material, and a ring that can help soothe a teething baby. The attractive patterns and sounds aid in the development of auditory and visual growth. Moving the rattle from side to side in front of bub will encourage them to track the movements, enabling eye coordination. When bub holds the rattle and shakes it in the air, they’ll work on their fine motor skills too.

In summary, you want to look for newborn toys that:

  • Have bold, loud, and contrasting colours
  • Make noises such as crackling and rattling
  • Are made of lightweight and softer materials
  • Don’t have any small, detachable pieces
  • Can be easily washed
  • Have smooth edges and no sharp points 
  • Accommodates their developmental needs

Older babies 7 to 12 months

Baby girl sitting on green grass with a plush bear

During this age, your baby may have learned how to crawl and pull themselves up on furniture. They may even be walking around (albeit a little shakily). They’ll begin to enjoy imitating the people around them and also start to see how you respond to their different actions.

This is them experimenting with cause and effect as well as exploring problem-solving. With this new stage in mind, here are some 7 months to 1-year-old toy options:

1. Shape sorters

Usually full of bold colours, shape sorters introduce your child to different shapes and allow them to solve the problem of fitting the right shape into the right hole. This is also a very effective way to hone their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination while placing different objects. While at it, they will be encouraged to expand their vocabulary by learning the names of the various shapes and the colours they are designed in. 

2. Stackers

Another fantastic option that assists their motor skill development is a stacker, for example, the Early Learning Centre Colour Counting Stacker. There are many types of stackers, but the concept is essentially the same across the board – place the correct piece in the right place (or order from largest to smallest). While bub navigates this, they stabilise their core when they move about, kneel and stand while using their hands to stack. This multi-tasking activity lets them learn to catch themselves and adjust their body to maintain balance.

3. Pull/push toys

As they’re moving around a lot more, plus they’ll have the motor skills to push and pull things around, baby boy and baby girl toys between 7 months and 1 year can be a little more mobile. These can include pretend play toys such as trains and cars with a drawstring or handle, but sticking to those that are quite basic in nature will be a wise choice. For example, instead of a train on a track, it might be better to go with a train they can take wherever they choose. While developing their fine motor skills (hand-eye coordination and grasp), they can work on their gross motor skills by moving the larger muscles in their thighs, legs and arms as they push and pull the toy over the surface. As such, these toys support the child in learning how to crawl and walk.

Keep an eye out for toys that offer: 

  • Bright, vibrant colours
  • Sounds and lights
  • Problem-solving challenge
  • Movement through pulling and pushing
  • Large pieces without any small loose pieces

Toys for 1-year-olds

Mother reading book for her baby

Your 1-year-old is much more mobile now, walking around with more confidence and agility. They’ll learn how to climb stairs at some stage throughout the year. They’ll also love to hear you tell them stories, can speak a few words, and will even enjoy parallel play (playing next to – but not with – other children).

Some perfect toy ideas for 1-year-olds include:

1. Arts and crafts 

Help them to find their inner artist by providing them with the tools to explore their artistic side! The Early Learning Centre Soft Stuff 1st Art Set is perfect for this. It includes everything from chalk and crayons to paint, non-spill pots (yay!), dough, plastic cutters, and so much more in one. Craft activities are significant in providing bub with new ways of thinking and problem solving, opening a world of imagination and self-expression like never before.

2. Board books

These super-colourful and fun books full of attractive, cute characters will fast become a favourite for your 1-year-old. Sit and read with them, and let them point out what they know on each page (dog, cat, etc.), and introduce them to the words they don’t yet know. From building listening and visual skills to honing their memory, these books form the foundation for independent learning later in bub’s life.

They’ll also continue to get plenty of use out of the stacking toys and shape sorters you introduced them to when they were a few months younger, as these will help fine-tune their motor skills. 

Toys for 1-year-olds should:

  • Introduce and continue with language development
  • Advance their motor skills
  • Offer problem-solving challenges
  • Allow them to create on their own

Toys for 2-year-olds

Woman and little boy playing puzzles

As they grow from a baby into a toddler, their language will quickly improve. Their fine motor skills will be advanced, and they’ll be much more active than ever. Toys such as pink kitchen sets, doll houses, trucks, and action figures will be great for your girl or boy. 

1. Ride-ons

There’s no escaping the fact that they really want to move around. A lot! And as such, now’s the perfect time to introduce a ride-on into their lives. Highly valuable for improving their gross motor skills, these toys support the development of core strength, which will help them later in other mobile activities, including cycling and running. And with a ride on, they’ll experience a slice of independence and adventure, understand their surroundings better and improve their observation skills.

2. Puzzles

Don’t go and buy them a 500-piece just yet. Instead, something a little more basic such as this chunky Early Learning Centre Alphabet Puzzle, with which your child can practise their memory skills by placing the alphabets in the right spots. Beyond memory, puzzles hone their problem-solving capabilities and apply/understand cause and effect. Exploring the difficulty levels of puzzles can be beneficial too. Bub will learn how to accept challenges, find motivation, deal with frustration, and experience joy, satisfaction, and a sense of achievement after completing a puzzle.

Puzzles make great learning toys for kids of all ages, as you just need to look for the appropriate age recommendation.

While they’re toddlers and no longer officially babies, they’re still little, so they’ll enjoy bright colours, sounds, and lights! You might also look for:

  • Problem-solvers
  • Active toys
  • Musical instruments (button-press, not real)
  • Make-believe props:  tea sets, pink kitchens, and toy phones
  • Dolls
  • Snap-together toys

Toys for 3 to 5-year-olds

Young girl drawing her face with crayons

They’re now at the preschool/kinder age and growing quickly to start school, which means their learning ability grows exponentially. They have much longer attention spans and will also begin to ask many questions. 

At some stage throughout these years, they’ll move from parallel to associate and cooperative play and find their competitive side when this happens. 

During this stage, it’s important to supply them with learning toys that accompany their development properly. These can include:

1. Activity pads 

Activity pads allow your child to learn and grow from letters and numbers to words and much more, so they’re more than ready for school when the time comes! They’ll increase dexterity in various activities, such as colouring and hone their handwriting skills. These books also give them the opportunity to develop good habits such as keeping track of their progress or making checklists of to-dos and completing them in time. 

2. Arts & crafts

They can now graduate to more complex arts and crafts sets, where you can introduce a wider variety of pencils, textas, and paints. These will help them go beyond comfortable creativity levels by exploring deeper and learning how to make use of different materials to produce unique creations.

3. More difficult puzzle sets

Once they’ve got the 12-piece puzzles down, you can get them puzzles that are a little more challenging. These can be from 20 or even up to 100 pieces for 5-year-olds, such as the 54-piece Early Learning Centre’s Astronaut Puzzle.

There are so many other toy options for kids between 3 and 5 years old. However, it’s always beneficial to buy something that helps their education while still being fun for them to play with. First, consider their interests, and go from there – you’re sure to find something!

From newborn gift sets to big cars for kids and more under one roof

Two little girls playing with wooden toys

Whether you’re searching for newborn toys that are brightly coloured and varied textures, learning toys for 1-year-olds, baby doll toys, or big cars for kids, you’re sure to find them at Mothercare.

Our extensive range also caters to every parenting need, from learning toys to lightweight strollers, cots, nappies, and anything else you could ever think of! So take advantage of our FREE shipping offer for orders over MYR400 (West Malaysia only) and browse our full collection today. 

If you have any questions about one or more of the products we offer or require some advice about what products would suit your needs, chat with one of our Digital Nursery Advisors! They’ll find the perfect solution for you and can even assist you in placing your order so the toys or other products you have carted out can be delivered from our store and be with you just in time.

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