Toys and Activities for Your Child’s First Years


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Many of the new mothers I talk to want to know how they can stimulate and entertain their babies and toddlers, and what the best toys are.  The predominant tendency is to buy lots of toys so the child will always have something new to play with and take lots of classes to keep the child stimulated, but this isn’t necessary. Often, by the time children are two years old, their schedule is jam packed, and they have so many toys that their room is often in chaos and they can’t enjoy their play time!

A few toys and simple activities, chosen for their developmental appropriateness will keep your child stimulated and fascinated, will reduce clutter in your home and promote bonding between mother (or father!) and baby.

While it is valuable to consider the attractiveness of toys you offer your small child and natural materials are optimal, I believe in some cases it is better to use what is available rather than overthinking the object.  For instance, I think wooden play structures are lovely, but I own a plastic one.  It was a gift, it will be used for a very brief moment in time and my baby loves it.  If I’d waited to invest in a wooden version, my child would not have it and wouldn’t be experiencing the important type of movement it allows.

These suggestions can be found in the wonderful Waldorf parenting book, You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy.

Toys for the first year:

Activities for the first year:

  • Touching/skin to skin contact, wearing your baby in a sling
  • Rock your baby
  • Talk to your baby
  • Sing and hum to your baby
  • Lots of outdoor and nature time (but make sure your baby is properly clothed and shaded from bright sunlight)
  • Nursery rhymes
  • Movement games such as peek a boo, pat a cake, and hickory dickory dock

Toddler Toys:

Activities for Toddlers:

  • Let your toddler “help” with household chores.  It may take you longer to finish, but it teaches your child valuable life lessons and is quality time.
  • Go on nature walks
  • Keep a “nature table” that changes with the seasons and where you can put natural objects found on your walks.
  • Play hiding games like taking turns hiding under a blanket.  Play chase, catch and hug.
  • Sing while you get ready for the day. Have a getting dressed song, a tooth brushing song, etc.
About Kelley

Hi! I'm Kelley. Real foodie and crunchy mom to a teenager and a toddler. My husband and I live in Southern California.