Before I make a list of the best educational toys by age, let’s get something clear.
Educational toys are important for learning and development, but spending a lot of money is not necessary.
If you are on a budget, there are a lot of tutorials online on how to provide your child with exactly the same kind of mental stimulation using things you can make at home.
And now for my recommendations.
Best Developmental Toys For Infants
Best Toys For 0 – 3 months
This time is all about your relationship with your newborn. Toys, even the educational and developmental ones, are not necessary.
Your touch. Your smell. Your voice. Your gaze.
These are all the important things during the first couple of months.
This is a time for you and your newborn to enjoy each other’s company. To learn each other’s rhythm.
It’s a time for you to understand how to respond to her needs.
And it’s a time for her to know that she has a loving and trustworthy family.
At any rate, if you must buy a toy, here are some that parents are often happy to have.
- Black and white image books
During the first few weeks, a child can’t see colors yet. He can, however, distinguish between black and white (dark & light).
- A mobile
Promotes visual stimulation and eye coordination.
- Sock rattle
A lot of parents love play mats. It’s a great place to put a baby down for a few minutes of reading time or tummy time. Initially, your child won’t be able to prop his neck up high enough (if he’s lying on his tummy), but it’s still good muscular practice.
Things You Can Make/Do:
Just be available. Sing as much as you can. Talk to him as often as possible. Give her lots of cuddles and kisses and more kisses and cuddles.
Learning Toys For 4 – 6 months
At about this time, things will change a bit.
Your baby will start to hold and grasp on to things. She now has a more developed eyesight and can make more movements with his arms and legs.
Swiping, grasping and holding on to things are good activities to develop fine motor skills. It strengthens the muscles she will need later on to properly hold a pencil or eat using cutlery.
Remember that it’s also very important to spend a lot of time talking to your infant. It might feel like a one-sided conversation, but HE IS absorbing everything you’re saying. And by doing so, you influence his language development too.
This is a time when hearing noise and sounds are good for learning. This is a good time to get something like a baby musical toy for under 6 months.
He will slowly learn about cause and effect.
He starts to think, “If I shake this, it makes a rattling sound. If I bang this, mommy jumps.”
He might not know yet that he’s causing things to happen, but he will get there soon enough. And it’s a very special day for both you and him when that realization happens.
Age Appropriate Educational Toys:
- Play gym
- Books with sparkly things, dots, stripes and swirls
- Cloth book
- Mirror (the ones that don’t break)
- Musical toys for babies under 6 months
- Rattles (maracas – drums ) – anything that makes a sound
Also remember to do these: Sing a lot. Interactive songs are great.
- Play peek a boo
- Read him stories. Lots of it.
- Talk to him. Lots.
- Sing to her. Lots.
Best Toys For 6- 9 months
Your baby will now be able to hold her head up and can sit upright with support. This is a good time for him to start exploring the world. This means providing toys and activities that allow him to use his senses. Anything that bangs, squeaks, rattles, and shakes are great. If she doesn’t have a baby musical toy yet, this is a perfect time to get one. Also get her things of different textures that she can touch. Watching things move are also great fun.
Continue working with his fine motor skills. Some great toys that help with brain development are:
- baby stacking toys
- cars/balls to roll
- messy play shape sorter
- shape sorter
- wooden blocks
- Squeaky eggs
- Pop up toys
- cloth/paper with different textures
- anything that moves
- measuring spoons
Things You Can Do/Make
- Go for a lot of walks outside. Fresh air is always good and they like seeing all that movement. From trees to cars to people walking
- Take them to the park. They like the sound of other kids.
- Read. A lot.
- Talk. A lot.
Learning Toys For 9 – 12 months
Your baby’s fine motor skills will start to develop now. It’s a good time to provide him with activities that will develop this skill even further. Some kids will also begin to have an interest in crawling or moving around using their bottom.
Some of the toys from the previous months will continue to be of interest. Here are some other learning toys.
This is great and a lot of kids and parents love it. Have a basket of stuff that he can easily grasp from squeaky toys to jar tops
- Anything from your kitchen
Some babies want nothing but the stuff from your kitchen. Egg poachers, pans, pastry brush, pots, plastic plates
- Things that he can take in and out
- Pop up toys
- Stacking toys
- Nesting eggs
- playdough (watch that she doesn’t put it in her mouth)
- wooden xylophone or other musical instruments that she can bang and make a noise with.
- Musical toys for babies that help learning, sleeping and playing
Educational Toys For Toddlers 12 – 18 months
It’s easy to buy all the many available toys geared for kids of this age. But remember that when it comes to educational toys for kids, go back to basics. Playdough is always good to have. This you can always make at home too.
This is a time of great exploration and a lot of educational toys are available for this age.
Here are some basic toys that can help with cognitive development.
More treasure box goodies. You can even have a few different boxes that you can alternate when he gets bored of one box
- Things that he can take in or out. Like a box of tissue paper.
- Shape sorters, lid matching or color matching toys
- Wooden blocks
- Big building toys like Duplo, mega blocks
- Water and sand table
- Kids love water at this age, so anything that gets her to splash around and move water from one vessel to another
- Dolls with clothes that they can put on and take off
- Pretend play stuff like food, play kitchen for boys and girls, pirate boat, floor brush and dust pan
- Pots and pans from your kitchen
- Anything related to music: CDs, harmonica
- Stacking cups, stacking rings, stacking anything
- Pegs and hammering toys
- Engineering toys for toddler
Best Toys For 18 – 36 months (Toddlers)
Toddlers’ interests vary.
This is a time for even more sensory explorations. Prepare for a lot of play dough and messy play. These are basic toys but they help with physical and cognitive development.
He will begin to imitate you and other adults around him. This is an important part of learning and knowing more about the world around him. Pretend play will also start to kick in.
Here are some educational toys for toddlers that are useful. Many of the toys from before this age will continue to work.
- More dressing up costume
- Pretend play toys: Play kitchen , laundry baskets, purse, tea sets, wooden farm animals, wooden doll house
- More building toys: train sets, Duplo, brio, gears
- arts and craft jars
- More music and singing
- Threading beads
- First games: simple matching games like ‘red dog, blue dog’ and lotto, also pop up pirate and Mr potato head, dominos
- Marble run
- Kinetic sand
- Laundry basket
- Wooden farm /animals, wooden doll house
- Stem toys for toddlers
- Robot toys for toddlers
Learning Toys For 4 – 6 Years Old
This age is crucial for brain development. A study shows that parent nurture, books, and exposure to educational toys are important at age 4.
This is a time to surround your child with educational toys and learning activities. Continue to do a lot of singing and dancing. And of course, you could never give them enough cuddles.
- Engineering toys: Knex, brio builder, Meccano, Playmobil
- Lego (for 4-year-olds will need help)
- Toolbox and construction sets
- Beginner’s science kits for kindergarten: Clifford the big red dog kits are great science kits for preschoolers
- Dinosaur mania will start for many kids, so anything dinosaur or archaeology related toys are great (set of fossils for example)
- Books: pop-up books etc
- Marble run, Playmobil, knex, Magna-tiles
- Playdough, moon sand or kinetic sand
- More pretend play: fairy house and small habitats, doctor’s kit, superhero dress up, costumes — loads of costumes for pretend play
- Cd player or karaoke machine
- Human body/skeleton model and other real life learning models
- games: pop up pirates, snakes and ladders, tangrams
Stem Toys For 7 – 8 Years Old
There are already lots of STEM toys that you can buy for this age. Your child will be able to build Legos and other building toys without help from you.
- Science kits for 8-year-olds: If you’ve started doing science projects at an early age, some of the science kits might be too basic. Still, kits like a butterfly kit is good fun.
- Games: monopoly, draughts, chess, scrabble, backgammon, trumps, 4connect, mancala
- Inventor Kits
- Telescope and microscope kits
- Building and engineering toys: Imaginext, knex
- Bop it
- Electronics sets: snap circuits
- Beginner robot kits
- Hama beads
- Klutz stuff
- Rock tumbler
- any rocket: stomp rocket, water rocket to learn more about physics
- More 8 year old than 7•easy Raspberry Pi kit like the Piper Computer kit
- metal detector
- toolbox with real “grown up stuff”
Educational Toys For 9 – 10 Years Old
This is the strange stage for many kids. This is when where they’re too old for the usual ‘traditional’ kid toys but also too young for teen toys.
They will still like to play with Legos, especially if it’s related to a Lego TV show. Minecraft is also big at this age.
- Games like Yahtzee, Hive Pocket or Catan
- Electronics kits
- Robot kits
- Parts for making a computer: The Piper computer kit is a good choice especially for Minecraft-crazy kids. But if you have a child who’s into building stuff from scratch, you could get the pieces needed to build his own computer (more 10 years old than 9)
- Nano blocks
- Coding toys and books
- Raspberry pie
- Advanced chemistry sets
- Subscriptions like the National Geographic for kids
- sudoku puzzles
- science kits for 10-year-olds
- Click here for some cool gift ideas for tween boys
- The Perfect Gifts For 10 Year Old Boys
Toys for 11-12 years Old
At this stage, many kids will have an idea of what their interests are. So if you’re looking to buy educational toys for kids, find something that relates to their interest at the moment.
Here are some ideas:
- Advanced science sets (nanotechnology, organic chem models)
- Animation camera
- Robot kits
- electricity kits
- outdoor survival kits
- advanced Lego sets
- Board games like the Risk Game
- Musical instruments like a guitar or ukulele
- USB microscope
- Craft kits like origami, string art or woodcarving
The Best Educational Toys
Award Winning Science kits for kids: Look at this list to find science toys that experts value. These toys have won toy awards and are also very highly rated by parents too. Whether you’re looking for volcano experiment kits for a preschooler or robotic kits for your 10-year old, you’ll find some good ideas here.
Best science kits for 8-year-olds to 10-year-olds: This is one difficult stage when it comes to toys. At this age, they’re usually already too old to play “kids toys” but too young to play teenager gadgets. So we made this list of science toys that are not too difficult nor too easy that they lose interest.
Science kits for kindergarten kids: They pop, they sizzle, they erupt! And what’s even better is that they feature a lot of characters young kids are familiar with like Clifford the Big Red Dog. These science activity kits are fun and easy to do to preschoolers to the magical world of science.
Robot Kits for Toddlers: Age-appropriate robotic toys for toddlers. This includes robots that teach kids colors and shapes to robot kits that toddlers and preschoolers can build. Also has some nice robotic plush toys for fun and for cuddles!