There is a vast difference between infant educational toys that your baby will play with, and those that will sit on the shelf like Toy Story rejects.
Is this just a stuffed bunny?
Or a educational moment?
If you're going to spend the money on toys, you've got a solemn responsibility to Mr. Bank Account to help them get used.
Until they're so worn out not even Goodwill would take them.
Allow me to propose a new way of looking at infant educational toys.
Instead of looking for the "experts" so-called best educational toy, why not take the toys your baby is playing with and make them part of an education?
The cheapest way to turn your regular toy box into a certified box-o-brain-wonders, is to rethink the obvious.
For example, take the stuffed bunny pictured above.
As your baby drags that bunny around the house, what if you taught him...
how to gently pet the bunny.
how soft the bunny is.
how to put the bunny to sleep, (shhhhh!) under a blanket on the couch.
how to wake up the bunny with a kiss.
how to play peek-a-boo with the bunny.
how to hop like a bunny.
how to "feed" the bunny.
Do you see where I'm going here?
These things sound simple, but they are teaching profound skills.
He's learning object permanence when he plays peek-a-boo, and is refining his fine motor skills when he puts the bunny to bed and gross motor skills when he tries to hop.
The second cheapest way to create educational toys for your baby is to buy toys you know she'll use.
Her toys should be challenging (or she'll get bored and stop using them), but not too advanced (or she won't know how to play with them).
The best way to find that "sweet spot" of infant educational toys, is to consider the skills she's trying to master (or will be soon) and purchase toys specifically designed to help those skills.
Like checklists? Request a copy of my free Milestone Marker to keep track of all your Einstein's achievements!
The rest of this article will help you identify what those skills are and what toy traits to watch for in babies ages 6 to 9 months old.
Is your baby younger? Older?
NEVER FEAR! I've matched milestones with toy ideas for them as well. Check them out at...
Baby in the "almost crawling stage"? Keep reading! These infant educational toys are serious about being infant educational toys.
Some babies need no encouragement to crawl. It's as if their entire life's goal has been to get themselves into things that give their mother's heart attacks.
If that's your baby, THE POISON CONTROL NUMBER SHOULD BE ON THE FRIDGE.
Then there's the Emperor Baby, watching the
servants slaves (do you get paid?) flutter around fetching things and feeding when required.
Yes, he'll roll off the throne eventually...but why rush?
Wow. Will you look at that. There's this AMAZING toy. Right there, about a foot away. I can't quite reach it. For some reason Slave Mama is not answering my grunts and points. Well, if you want to get something done...
A simple blue ball rolled across the floor may be sufficient motivation to get those arms and legs scooting across the carpet.
Is this just a plain blue ball?
Or an adventure?
Or not. (Stewie comes to mind.)
But what if it was a textured rainbow circular adventure with a rattle inside?
*scampers across floor with super-baby speed*
I thought so.
And for those of you not a fan of rainbows (I know you're out there...) here are some color-tamed safely-spiked sensory balls.
All the fun without the girlish-ness.
Laugh if you will, but these little puppies practically bark "Catch me!" to any observing mini-adults.
(I said practically, not actually. I'm tricky like that.)
Both dogs are completely obedient.
They will not bark, roll over, sniff inappropriate places, or pee on my carpet. (No bitterness there...)
They WILL, however, waddle forward when your baby "catches" (touches) them at different speeds you can set.
(Warp speed is not an option, fyi. Tried that, WAS SORELY DISAPPOINTED!)
Other than the lack-of-warp-speed issue *grumble grumble*, they're good little crawler-motivators.
When I say "eye-hand coordination", I'm really just saying "can stack stuff".
Stuff like tupperware...but that would require that I could find all the lids.
Scrap that idea.
I love these blocks. Almost as much as I love their name. Get it? (Here's a clue, say it out loud...)
The blocks can be chewed on, slobbered over, and thrown without harm. Which is actually important because they will be chewed on, slobbered over, and thrown either at the cat, a sibling, or you.
And yes, they're BPA-free. Listed as a Best of 2010 toy by Parenting Magazine, and winner of the prestigious "Heather Really Likes This" Award given out whenever I feel like it.
...they create the Stack 'n Surprise Musical Croc Wagon! (of course!)
This wagon wonderland not only stacks, but can be dragged around the house for hours. (Something my 18-month-old loves to do.)
Type-A mothers (like myself) will rejoice when I tell you that the seat opens to store the stacking toys inside.
I have Isabella practice putting away her toys when she's finished. A habit that will stick. IT WILL I TELL YOU!
Infant educational toys are dependent on the user. Toys your baby won't play with aren't going to be much use, educationally.
At this stage of development, your six to nine month old will be focusing leg and upper body strength improvements as he begins crawling.
Choose toys that give him an opportunity to practice his army-crawl, scooching, or other means of transportation across the living room.
He will also be focusing on his fine motor skills. He'll be learning how to feed himself, how to pick things up with his thumb and forefinger.
You can help this eye-hand coordination along by providing toys that stack and unstack.
Any toy, well loved, can become an infant educational toy. Especially when Mom is playing with.
Infant Educational Toys Designed for Newborns Under 3 Months
The Secret to Finding Great Toys for Sitters ages 3-6 Months
Top 10 Toys for Increasing Motor Skills in Waddlers ages 9 Months and Up
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