Have family and friends that are asking you for gift suggestions for the holidays? Stuck on what to get your kiddos yourself? Below is United Rehabilitation Services’ very own “Holiday Gift Guide to Promote Development!” What’s important to remember is that it is not as much about the toy, but more about how you play with the toy! Try to model language, movements, and life skills with these toys to optimize learning. 

*Before we break down our toy suggestions by age, we would love to encourage you that books are a great gift at any age! Books are a valuable tool for facilitating language development and promoting early literacy skills. Some books encourage movement more readily than others, but you can always encourage your child to act out the pages. Page turning, pointing, touch and feel, and lift the flap books are also a good way to promote fine motor skills.* 

0-3 months: Your child is taking in the world. Help increase cervical and trunk strength by promoting tummy time. This can be done using a boppy pillow, activity mat, or therapy ball. Help with visual stimulation by using high contrast cards in black and white. This is also a great time to read to your little one.

3-6 months: Mirrors are an excellent way to entertain your child as they are becoming more tolerant of tummy time and working on sitting up on their own. Rattles are a fun tool to stimulate your child’s senses while working on tracking sounds. Silicone teethers help soothe your little one’s gums. A soft book (bonus points if it crinkles) helps with fine motor development and sensory stimulation.  

6-12 months: Stacking blocks or cups in fun colors for fine motor development, cardboard books that little hands can help turn the pages, push toy to practice standing and taking steps, small balls to roll back and forth

1-2 years: large wooden puzzles, baby doll to practice emotions and body parts, Mr. Potato Head to teach body parts, shape sorter to teach shapes, activity/sensory tables to promote standing and exploring different textures, pull toys to promote balance and coordination for walking backwards, bubbles, toddler slide for coordination, sensory stimulation and core strength, ride on toy, mini basketball hoop, cause and effect toys, toy cars, farm/animal set to practice animal noises and labels, pop up or lift the flap books

2-3 years: by 2 years old, your child should be showing signs of jumping, attempting to ride a tricycle, and increasing dexterity. Some toys to help promote these skills include: mini trampoline, jumbo building blocks, tricycle, larger playground-sized balls, finger paints, chunky puzzles, 6” balance beam, toy house set

4-5 years: As your child grows, s/he is getting more coordinated with balance and motor planning. This is a great time to introduce a bike with training wheels, 3-wheeled scooter, play food/kitchen, jigsaw puzzles, lacing beads, stepping stones, doctor set, community helpers figures, and board games (Candy Land, Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, Hi Ho Cherry-O, Zingo)