Updated: Nov 27, 2020
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, many parents are feeling overwhelmed trying to find safe, quality, thoughtfully designed toys that engage children in imaginative play.
Because many caregivers underestimate the value of play and its role in brain development, my goal is to help families understand the importance of how the toys we give our children can maximize (and even potentially hinder) cognitive development.
As a holistic healthcare provider of almost 10 years with additional training from the ICA, ICPA and ACA, I’d like to use November’s blog post to share my expertise on this topic by featuring my top picks for gross motor, fine motor and sensory learning in infants and toddlers.
Each product featured in this blog post has been independently selected and reviewed personally by Dr. Bethany Buryta. Recommendations made on this website are an honest opinion from the past decade + of training and experience I have obtained in primary and supportive care as a Doctor of Chiropractic. It is also important to note that if you make a purchase using the links included, as an Amazon Influencer, I may earn from qualifying purchases. Rest assured that by clicking the affiliate links featured, you are helping to support a small, woman owned, Rochester New York business and it is soooooo appreciated!
1. SmartNoggin Noggin Stick
The SmartNoggin Noggin Stick is an affordable, long-lasting, and quality made toy that allows parents to assess baby’s developmental progress through fun play time activities. This toy encourages parent-infant interaction, fun play, bonding, and entertainment by preparing and forming the foundation for their baby’s future learning.
The motion activated Noggin Stik lights up in 3 different colors which helps your baby learn visual tracking – a critical pre-literacy skill and a necessary precursor to reading. The design promotes tactile interest and enhances grasping and holding skills, which are important foundational skills for future learning.
Each Noggin Stik comes with a user-friendly booklet that gives parents appropriate timelines for what their baby should be doing at any given phase of development.
Activities are designed for infant to 12 month olds making this rattle the one that lasts longer than other rattles.
2. Manhattan Toy Squish Rattle
MULTI-SENSORY CLUTCHING BABY TOY: Classic, multi-sensory clutching rattle encourages grasping and reaching which are important for gross motor skills; the lightweight wooden dowels, smooth finish, and elastic ties make it easy for little hands to grab and hold.
BABY WOODEN RATTLE: The Skwish is surprisingly lightweight, allowing little ones the ease of sliding the beads back and forth on dowels, producing a very pleasing rattle sound and allowing baby to explore sound and learn cause and effect from activity.
DEVELOPMENTAL TEETHER TOY: Skwish may not turn every baby into a mathematical genius, but every baby can joyfully benefit from its unique developmental features. The highly-regarded design of wood construction and elastic ties allow the unique rattle and teether to flatten, or "squish", and always return to its original shape.
HEIRLOOM QUALITY WOODEN TACTILE TOY: Not only is the Artful Skwish Rattle and Teether safe for baby teething due to the baby-safe water-based acrylics that remain hardened, it has bountiful tactile qualities of smooth, yet perceptible wood grain texture as well as the spongy movement from the elastic bands.
3. Grimm’s 12 Piece Rainbow Stacker
This truly beautiful natural toy, made by hand in Germany, will stimulate children visually, mentally and creatively
Versatile open-ended toy has many uses & inspires joyful imagination: It's a stacker & puzzle, plus pieces can be used as bridges, tunnels, fences, beds & more!
Rich, vibrant colors from certified non-toxic, child-safe water based stains (NO worrisome paint or varnish used)
Recommended for toddlers, kids and adults (from 18 months+) and also makes a lovely decoration on a coffee table or bookshelf.
4. Fat Brain Toys Wooden Personalized Name Puzzle
ENCOURAGES FINE MOTOR SKILLS, LETTER RECOGNITION, spelling skills
PERFECT FOR ALL AGES; use it as a decoration for the baby room; exceptional quality; nontoxic paints
A VIBRANT COLORFUL WOODEN NAME PUZZLE made just for your child; each one is made-to-order in Omaha, NE!
A PUZZLE FOR EVERY NAME! So long as it's 9 characters or less, including spaces, we can make it
5. Montessori Imbucare Boxes
[Next Level Object Permanence Box]: This Montessori toy is the next level challenge of the traditional Object Permanence Box. Although the ball fit in the hole in every position, your child needs to open the drawer to retrieve the ball, it doesn't just roll out.
[Montessori Imbucare Box with Natural Wooden Ball]: Allow toddlers an experience with opening, closing and fitting the ball into hole, keep babies entertained and also inspire them start experimenting with other balls and toys "fitting into the hole" and applied that concept to other things.
[Montessori Infant & Toddler Environment Material]: This Montessori wooden educational toy allows Montessori infants to experience object permanence. The child will be able to understand that things do exist even if they disappear. It practices precise hand-eye coordination while sending information to the brain as well as develops hand, wrist and finger control. It's one of the best Montessori materials for child development.
[Safe Montessori Teaching Tool for 6-24 Months]: The infant imbucare box is made of environmentally friendly plywood, processed so that all edges are smooth and rounded off. Applied with water based dyes, non-formaldehyde glue. The material is recommended for children from 6-24 months.
[Next Level Object Permanence Coin Box with Drawer]: This Montessori toy is the next level challenge of the traditional Object Permanence Box. Although the ball fit in the hole in every position, your child needs to open the drawer to retrieve the ball, it doesn't just roll out.
[Montessori Toys for 1 Year Old]: This Montessori wooden toy coin box with 5 coins (1.6in) is ideal for kids developing coordination of movement, hand dexterity, small motoric and concentration skills, as well as practicing hand-eye coordination and to become familiar with object permanence. Take the coin from the box and place it in the slot. Ask your baby where the coin is, open the box and show the coin again, saying here it is.
[Montessori Wooden Educational Toys for Toddlers]: This Montessori material provides a young toddler with experiences of fitting objects into slot, exploring the use of the hand, finger and wrist movement.
[Safe Montessori Teaching Tool for 6-24 Months]: The box is made of environmentally friendly plywood, processed so that it does not have sharp corners. Applied with water based dyes, non-formaldehyde glue. The material is recommended for children from 6-24 months.
6. Grimm’s Rainbow Bowl Shape and
Color Sorting Activity Set
with Grabbing Tongs
Develops sorting and classifying skills
Promotes color and shape exploration
Develops fine motor skills
Includes 6 bowls, 2 pairs of tongs, 2 wood trays
For ages 1 and up
Made in Germany with an all-natural oil finish and water-based stain color
7. Melissa & Doug Cutting Food
WOODEN CUTTING PLAY FOOD SET: The Melissa & Doug Cutting Food Wooden Play Food set features pieces that stick together and come apart with a satisfying “crunch” sound as kids slice them apart.
SELF-STICK TABS: This cutting food set features self-stick tabs that hold pieces together. It’s great for pretend play and introducing the concepts of “part” and “whole.”
REALISTIC PAINTED PIECES: This Melissa & Doug cutting food set is made of beautifully painted pieces that feature realistic details. The sturdy wooden construction allows the set to hold up against frequent use.
GIFT FOR 3 TO 5 YEARS: This set makes an exceptional gift for kids ages 3 to 5 years. Add the Melissa & Doug Cutting Fruit Set to round out the pretend play experience and give kids another engaging option for screen-free fun.
“THE GOLD STANDARD IN CHILDHOOD PLAY”: For more than 30 years, Melissa & Doug has created beautifully designed imagination- and creativity-sparking products that NBC News called “the gold standard in early childhood play.”
Perfect for creative play!
8. Modifiable Pickler Triangle
The freedom of movement is very important in healthy and natural child development. The ability to climb plays a big role in a child’s motor skills and balance, therefore children naturally tend to climb everywhere.
Parents' role here is to provide a safe way for a child to work on his/her climbing skills and this is where Pikler triangle comes into the game!
Modifiable Pikler triangle “Mopitri” is the most unique and innovative climbing triangle in the world!
Change the shape of the climbing triangle each day, so it never gets boring for a child to use it. Lower or steeper triangle, house-shaped or flat, or maybe two small triangles, as far as your imagination goes!
Adapt to your child’s development stage and abilities. Add the sliding ramp for more fun activities. The overall climbing structure's dimensions are dependent on the position of the triangle. The highest triangle is around 23 inches high.
9. Liquid Sensory Floor Play Mats
9-Piece Set: Little Chubby One’s Liquid Fusion Activity Sensory Tiles Set includes nine tiles, boasting bright, cosmic liquid colors to attract and hold children’s attention.
Developmental Skills: Encouraging visual and sensory processing, this set of tiles is suitable for children ages 6 months and up. When children step on the tiles or touch them with their hands, the liquid moves around inside to keep kids engaged and calm.
Quality Construction: Each Activity Sensory Tiles is expertly crafted using two sheets of PVC to ensure long-term strength and reliable use. It’s filled with a nontoxic, cosmetic liquid and furnished with an anti-slip backing for safe play.
Decorative Tiles: With bright, attractive colors and durable construction, you can use these tiles in multiple ways. Place them on the floor to stimulate children, create a dance floor for special occasions or decorate a playroom for visual appeal.
Portable Design: Lightweight and portable, the Activity Sensory Tiles can be transported and used in homes, schools, waiting rooms and while away on vacation to keep children engaged and relaxed at all times.
10. Nontoxic Water Beads
Fun Sensory Toys for Kids! Multicolored Water beads expand in water to provide slippery, smooth, soothing sensory stimulation for kids. They are super-fun for play in tubs, water tables, or in a foot spa! There are 8 colors of beads included, about 25,000 beads total.
Non-toxic, biodegradable, safe for kids: Feel great about your child diving their hands or feet into a tub of water beads! Note that we recommend these for older children who will not put them in their mouth, ears or nose.
Learning resource, educational toys: Fantastic to teach through play, use to teach colors, sorting, patterns, design and about water absorption and the water cycle. Our reuseable water beads and container can be used to teach environmental awareness. Help develop fine motor skills.
Great occupational therapy gifts! With unique 8 compartment storage container: YOU can select the colors of beads you want to use! No mixed pack here, choose what color or color combo you want to use for every play experience! Our custom container keeps beads sorted by color and is re-usable afterwards!
Reusable! The beads start out small, simply add water and watch each bead expand to about 0.5" across in a couple of hours and find them in a glorious soft colorful state! Once they dry out and shrink, simply add more water and they'll expand again! Use them over and over!
11. Sarah’s Silks
Open ended play: children use playsilks in their pretend play as water for a sailboat, fire for a camping stove, a sling for a doll or stuffed animal, a decorative backdrop for a make-believe scene and so much more. Children can express themselves freely by creating their own dress-up outfits with vibrantly colored playsilks. Will they make a cape, a skirt, a tail, a crown?
Movement: Physically active children and little ones with special needs who benefit from movement-oriented play will enjoy using playsilks as juggling scarves, dancing scarves or yoga props
Lightweight and portable: perfect for traveling! Playsilks are light and airy, making them easy to pack and easy to tidy
Environmentally friendly: made with 100% real, natural silk and non-toxic, environmentally safe dyes. Sarah’s Silks is committed to making imaginative toys that are sustainable for the Earth and its children. Measuring 35 by 35 inches. Safety tested for ages 3 & up. Hand wash/hang dry
Waldorf and Montessori-inspired: Designed to encourage open-ended, imaginative, pretend play and made of high quality silk fiber that will last in your child’s dress-up box for years to come. Rainbow capes are a common birthday gift within the Waldorf tradition!
12. Paint by Sticker
Creative, screen-free, and mess-free activity
Great for fine motor skill development
Follow this link for the FULL LIST of NEURODEVELOPMENTAL TOYS
Follow this link for the FULL ROCHESTER HOUSE CALL CHIROPRACTIC AMAZON STOREFRONT
Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions or suggestions for other health and wellness related products that you just can't live without!
Happy Holiday Shopping from your Favorite House Call Chiropractor,
Dr. Bethany Buryta
Rochester House Call Chiropractic
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