Occupational Therapist's Favorite Developmental Toys



0-6 MONTHS


Rattles are a fun way to introduce reaching and grasping to a little one to wrap their tiny fingers around. They stimulate the visual and auditory systems and promote hand-eye coordination. They are a perfect and safe toy for the infant to help him learn to bring his hands and toys to his mouth.


Tummy time is essential for an infant, as it helps to build head and neck strength, and is the foundation for the development of strong motor skills. Having a tummy time mat for your little one promotes a fun, engaging way to get that hard work in!


The floor time mirror is a perfect addition to tummy time. Tummy time can be tough, so distraction is key! Babies love looking at faces and mirrors allow for more exploration of their visual environment.




6-12 MONTHS


Activity tables are a great toy to grow with the child. The legs can be removed when the baby is on his tummy or sitting and can be made taller as he begins to stand. This activity table has buttons, knobs, and switches to help your baby develop fine motor skills, and this is a great toy to begin learning cause and effect!


Ring stackers are a therapist's favorite as they are simple and versatile. They are a great toy to develop hand-eye coordination, colors, and size sequencing.


When your little one begins to crawl, they are always on the move! Tunnels are a great way to encourage crawling, which is a necessary foundation to learn other motor skills!




1-2 YEARS


The learning piggy bank is a great toy that encourages visual motor skills, fine motor development and attention. It is great to expose your little one to various shapes and sizes for them to manipulate to build strong problem solving and motor skills!


The shape sorter is a another noteworthy toy to promote development of hand-eye coordination, problem solving, and grasping, all while learning about colors and shapes! It's a great "next step" after your little one has mastered the learning piggy bank!


These soft, squeezable stacking blocks are a wonderful way for your little one to build hand strength (especially to shoot water out of it in the bath tub!). Stacking supports visual motor development, and the different textures on the blocks are always a wonderful way to support the tactile system!




2-3 YEARS


Palm-grasp crayons are the perfect way to introduce coloring to your baby! They are designed to allow for easy grasp to fit in your baby's palm. While your baby is having a blast making marks and scribbling, he is also strengthening the muscles of his hand!


Your toddler may always be on the move now! A mini trampoline is one of my favorite toys for this age, as it helps develop the vestibular and proprioceptive systems, two sensory systems responsible for balance, coordination, postural control, and MANY other things!


The developmental opportunities with play-doh are endless! Play-doh is a fun activity that promotes hand strengthening, fine motor skills, and tactile processing. It's a perfect way to get creative and to have kids use their imagination.




AGES 3+


Lite-Bright is another go-to activity! As toddlers get older, their fine motor skills begin to refine, and this is a perfect activity to encourage that! This activity allows for creativity and can support attention and direction following to copy a pattern.


At this age, kids LOVE to build. Marble Run is a perfect activity to develop bilateral skills, hand strengthening to put the pieces together and pull them apart, and problem-solving!


Kinetic Sand is another perfect activity to encourage tactile processing and creativity. Making castles is always a hit, and kids have a blast looking for small toys "hidden" in the sand!




This list was generously created by Katie Oien.


Katie Oien is an occupational therapist certified by the National Board of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and the state of California. She specializes in working with children with various neurodevelopmental and physical disorders and has experience in settings including early intervention, private practice, school-based settings, and medical therapy units. She is SIPT certified and has advanced training in sensory integration, reflex integration, neurodevelopmental treatment, feeding, and physical agent modalities. She earned her master’s degree in occupational therapy from Loma Linda University and is currently pursuing her doctorate in occupational therapy with a specialty in neuroscience from Thomas Jefferson University.

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