Are you worried about what toys to let into your home this holiday season?
The choices out there can be overwhelming, especially if you want to make sure you’re getting the best toys to boost your child’s development.
You don’t just want toys that are loud and colorful, you want to make sure you’re helping your child develop skills along the way.
These toys will be helping them learn their motor skills, often for the very first time.
Motor skills will be vital throughout your child’s entire life, so it’s great for them to get a head start.
When it comes to toys that are best for your child’s motor skills development, you may have a lot of questions.
We’re Little Feet, a pediatric physical and occupational therapy clinic, and we’re here to help answer your questions about the best toys for your child’s motor skills development.
How Do Motor Skills Develop?
Your child’s ability to control their body is considered their motor skills development.
This starts with large muscle coordination, or gross motor skills development.
Gross motor skills include things crawling, walking, rolling over, or holding up their head.
Alongside their gross motor skills, your child’s fine motor skills will develop as well.
Fine motor skills use smaller, more precise movements and require more refined muscle control.
This includes things like writing, drawing, using an eating utensil, and more.
Some children will have more coordination than others as they develop their motor skills.
If you’re hoping to help your child along as they build their motor skills, you may want to consider gifts for the coming holiday season that help support them.
Gifts For Kids Younger Than Two That Can Help Develop Fine and Gross Motor Skills
Your baby will learn a lot in their first two years of life.
They’re learning to understand their body and how it works.
As they do, this helps them develop both their gross and fine motor skills, language and cognitive skills, and much more.
- Reach out and accurately grab objects
- Feed themselves with their hands
- Pick up objects with their thumb and first two fingers
- Drink from a sippy cup
- Place things in and take things out of a container or bin
- Maintain their balance as they walk without assistance
- Squat down and pick things up
And by the time they reach two years old, they should be able to:
- Scribble with a crayon
- Finish a simple puzzle
- Throw a ball
- Catch a ball
- Feed themselves with a spoon
- Brush their teeth
- Stack blocks on top of each other
- Jump with both feet together
- Walk up and downstairs
The only way for them to develop these skills is to practice them.
Here are some toys that can help children younger than two develop their motor skills.
1. An Activity Table
An activity table is a toy that can get a lot of mileage, as your baby will continue to find new things to enjoy with them as they grow.
You can adjust them to adapt to your child’s play style – laying them on the ground during tummy time and then putting them up on legs once they’re ready to stand and play.
Activity tables have a variety of buttons to explore so your baby can develop fine motor skills as they experience with the sounds and feedback they can produce.
2. A Crawl Tunnel
Even though crawling can already be exciting, your baby might benefit from extra encouragement.
A fun tunnel to pull themselves through will be especially enticing for your exploring child.
Crawling is an especially important gross motor skill, and crawl tunnels can provide a fun environment to play and explore. Crawling improves strength and coordination that assist in all areas of development.
Crawling is beneficial for toddlers as well, so this toy will grow with your child and be relevant for years to come.
3. A Shape Sorting Toy
Shape sorters are another toy that can grow with your child, because you can start with the lid off so they learn to put their shaped blocks away with a wider opening.
With the cover on, your child will not only learn the shapes of blocks but use their fine motor skills to position the blocks correctly so they fit into the holes.
This toy is fun for emphasizing hand eye coordination as well.
Although this is a good present for babies, your child may not learn how to use it fully until they’re around 18 months, so this toy can also grow with them.
4. Stuffed Animals
Stuffed animals are one of the greatest toys for encouraging make believe play.
Make believe play will engage with your toddler’s creativity, giving them the confidence to explore their worlds.
They’ll develop a sense of adventure that will activate all of their motor skills, and they’ll be able to do it with a soft friend by their side.
5. A Set Of Stacking Blocks
Your child will of course enjoy knocking down blocks before they learn to build with them.
As they get older and want more of their own fun, though, they’ll start using their motor skills to build up towers and buildings. You can challenge their balance as they build their tower taller by having them stand on pillows.
Then they can knock their own towers down, and that will still use their gross motor skills.
Gifts For Kids Two And Up That Can Help Develop Fine and Gross Motor Skills
As your child passes their second birthday, they’re continuing to grow and develop.
At this stage in their life, they’ll be building on the skills they learned during their earlier years.
This includes things like how to:
- Open jars
- Copy letters and numbers
- Cut paper with safety scissors
- String beads together
- Stay within the lines while coloring
- Use the toilet on their own
- Turn the pages of a book
- Fold pieces of paper
- Climb, run, and jump
- Skip, hop, and gallop
- And more
They should be able to do these things by the time they’re 4 years old
Here are some toys that can help them develop these and other fine and gross motor skills.
1. Velcro Ball Mitts
Velcro ball mitts are a helpful toy because they encourage both hands to work together.
These kinds of toys will help them figure out how to stabilize an object with one hand while their other hand acts on it.
What’s special about these toys is that they require the use of both hands – it’s not just an option.
2. Bath Tub Crayons
The magic of bath tub crayons is that they require your child to play on a vertical surface.
Toys that encourage this vertical movement are helpful for your child’s hands, wrists, and shoulders.
This is a great toy for boosting your child’s fine motor skills and preparing them to work on even more.
3. Modeling Dough
Modeling dough is a great toy for letting your toddler explore different textures.
The more your toddler explores unusual textures, the more prepared they’ll be to encounter those textures in other contexts – such as when they’re eating or playing outside in nature.
Toddlers learn the best when all of their senses are activated, so toys like this are great for activating both their sense of touch and their fine motor skills as they manipulate them.
4. A Doll (Even For Boys)
Dramatization with your child’s doll can enable them to interact with it in such a way that they want to learn skills that will help them take care of it.
Getting a doll dressed can help with a child’s fine motor skills as it can take quite a bit of coordination.
Crossing their midline is an important motor skill that will be reinforced by feeding and holding their doll.
These skills are invaluable and natural with toy dolls, so don’t limit this great toy to just your girls – boys love them, too!
5. Duplo Blocks
Similar to the shape sorter, Duplo blocks are going to activate your child’s problem solving skills.
As they’re learning to stack and create new shapes, they’re using their motor skills and enhancing their spatial reasoning.
These toys are promoting higher level learning that will continue to boost their skills as they get older.
Book Your Appointment With Little Feet Pediatric Therapy Today
Looking for more tips on how best to facilitate your child’s learning this holiday season?
Have you noticed your child seems to be struggling to play with age appropriate toys?
We’re always happy to answer your questions and talk to you about how to best support your child’s development.
► 3535 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC 28211
► 1331 H St NW Ste 200, Washington, DC 20005
► St. Louis, MO
► Raleigh, NC
Founded in 2019, Little Feet Therapy offers on site pediatric physical and occupational therapy treatments for children from 2 months to 18 years old with physical and developmental concerns. Our clinics focus on providing therapy in a child’s natural setting where your child is in familiar surroundings, it puts their mind at ease and helps them focus more on the work they’re doing with their pediatric therapist. Our therapists will work with your child at your home, at school, at daycare, or another place in the community where they feel most comfortable.