Great Baby Toys For Language Development

Support Baby's Speech Development: Tips From A Speech Pathologist

Playtime is a wonderful time to support baby’s communication development and early learning. The definition of play is to: “engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”

Although it seems funny to think of little babies “playing,” they are capable of engaging in activities that they enjoy from very early on. At first it might be as simple as them smiling or laughing at something funny that you do, batting at a toy, games of peek-a-boo, or banging two objects together and listening to the noise it makes with delight. As baby gets older, play will become more involved and you can be a super fun playmate!

Great Baby Toys For Language Development #toys #speech #baby #babytoys

Baby toys can be a fun addition to playtime. Often, the simpler the toy and the more baby has to do to make it work, the better for learning (of course there are toys with all the bells and whistles that are great too).

As a mom and a Speech Pathologist, I love toys that support little ones in developing problem solving skills, creativity, flexibility, back-and-forth interactions, talking and listening skills, and of course are fun for baby! I think it is great to find your baby’s preferred balance of interactive playtime with you and your baby, and solo playtime, in which you observe baby as they explore a toy (while supervised) in their own way and at their own level. We can learn what our baby enjoys, by not only interacting with them, but also by watching them play. Children learn best when they are enjoying what they are doing!

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite toys for babies:

 

 

 

Constructive Playthings: Foam Stacking Blocks with Photo Pockets

We had these fun blocks with clear sides to put photos in when my girls where little and they loved them!

Ideas for building language:

  • Great for learning about family members, family pets, or anything you can find pictures of
  • Fun for stacking, learning about shapes (square), colors, and interactive play
  • Talk to baby about the pictures and ask them questions about which pictures they like (it’s ok if they don’t answer yet)

Infantino: Textured Multi Ball Set

These colorful textured balls are perfect for baby to explore through their sense of touch!

Ideas for building language:

  • Talk about textures, colors, and shapes
  • Let baby feel the different textures and label them (“smooth, bumpy,” etc.)
  • Practice rolling the balls back and forth, throwing the balls or bouncing them
  • Hide the balls under a blanket and practice “wh” questions (“where is the ball?” or “what color ball is it going to be?”)

Melissa & Doug: Peek-a-Boo Panda

Peek-a-boo is a fun and simple game that is a classic for a reason. This adorable panda show baby how to play peek-a-boo.

Ideas for building language:

  • Play peek-a-boo using the panda and then with baby
  • Ask baby about different parts of panda’s face (“where are panda’s eyes/nose/mouth?”) to teach about body parts
  • Talk about what panda looks like (colors, features, etc.) and that panda is an animal

Sassy Look Photo Book

My girls loved this photo book as baby! We filled it up with pics of relatives and they loved looking at the pictures and learning about the members of their family.

Ideas for building language:

  • Put family photos in the album and talk about members of the family
  • Cut out fun pictures from a magazine and talk about what they are
  • Place pictures from an outing or family trip in the album and talk to baby about the fun experience they had
  • Put pictures of your baby in the album and talk about how cute he or she is and the features of his/her face

Manhattan Toy Put and Peek Birdhouse

This birdhouse is a fun toy that allows you to hide the birds in the birdhouse and play with the birds separately.

Ideas for building language:

  • Hide the birds and practice “where” questions (“where is the bird?”) and “which” questions (“which bird is in the house?” it’s the yellow and blue one!”)
  • Talk about the birds colors and features
  • Describe the birdhouse: colors, parts, what it’s for, and who lives in it
  • Pretend to have the birds fly around and land in different spots to practice prepositions (on, under, behind, etc.)
  • Ask baby, “what do birds say?” Listen and model “cheep, cheep” or “tweet, tweet”
  • Go outside and point out real birds so baby makes the connection

Hape – Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone

This is a super fun musical toy that my toddler and older daughter still love playing with! This one is probably best for older babies and up. Musical toys are great for supporting language development!

Ideas for building language:

  • Talk about the colors on the toy and what colors are in the rainbow
  • Count the balls and the keys on the xylophone
  • Talk about the different functions of the toy (it plays music and it hammers the balls)
  • When baby is old enough:
    • Let baby play the xylophone and make beautiful music
    • Let baby hammer the balls and model vocab words, like, “tap, hammer, ball, and roll”

Gund Curious George Hand Puppet

If you’ve visited this site before, you might have noticed that I love puppets! Puppets are super fun for interacting with babies and so many early communication skills can be targeted in puppet play. We even have a Chirpy Chatterbox puppet that my girls love to play with! Any puppet will do, but I thought this Curious George puppet was cute because he’s a monkey and what baby doesn’t love monkeys and I love that this character stands for curiosity. Babies learn so many things by following their curiosity and you can encourage this in play!

Ideas for building language:

  • Have conversation between the puppet and your baby
  • Have the puppet give baby kisses and tell baby, “George is going to kiss your nose!” Or “tickle your feet!” This helps baby learn about body parts and how fun back-and-forth interaction is
  • Have George hide ad pop out for an extra fun game of peek-a-boo
  • Talk to baby about what George looks like, what type of animal he is, and how his fur feels

Melissa & Doug Geometric Stacker

Stacking toys are so great for baby to learn problem solving skills, language skills, and fine motor skills!

Ideas for building language:

  • Let baby touch and hold the different shaped and colored pieces and tell baby about the names of these shape/color they are holding
  • Let baby try to stack the pieces and encourage them to sign or say “help” if they need help. This skill will take a while to come, but the modelling it from an early age will support them in developing it (of course you can still help them if they can’t ask for help yet)
  • Lay the pieces on the floor and create pretty and colorful designs with baby

 

Old Macdonald: A Hand-Puppet Board Book

This toy is a book/puppet hybrid, my dream come true! And, you can sing a song with it too! So much fun.

Ideas for building language:

  • Sing/read the book and name the animals as you go
  • After reading the book, pop one animal up and talk about what kind of animal it is, what sound it makes, and what it looks like
  • Let baby try on the glove and look at the book
  • As baby gets older, let him/her fill in parts of the song or pick which animals they want to sing about nexr

Freddie and Sebbie Bath Letters and Numbers

Bath time is a super fun time for building language and literacy skills. Bath letters are simple but allow for so many fun ways to play and learn!

Ideas for building language:

  • Sing the ABC’s with the letters
  • Let baby explore the letters at whatever level they are at (holding them, putting them up on the wall, etc.) and talk to baby about the names of the letters and the colors
  • As baby gets older, spell words for them like their name, mom, or dad and tell them the letters and sounds that make up that word

Sassy Crib and Floor Mirror

Mirrors are a fun way for baby to play during tummy time or any time!

Ideas for building language:

  • Let baby look in the mirror and see what they do (they might just look, they might get excited, they might babble at their reflection)
  • Tell them who that baby they see is (“look it’s (baby’s name)!”
  • Get next to baby and look in the mirror with them, make silly expressions and make sounds for baby to try to imitate

Melissa & Doug Shape Sorter

Shape sorters are great for a range of ages and are simple, yet great for learning!

  • Let baby look at, touch, and explore the shapes
  • Talk to baby about the shapes and colors
  • Let baby try to put the shape in and model the word or sign for “help” if they are having trouble. They may not yet be able to request help, but this supports them in learning (of course you can still help them if they can’t ask for help yet)

What are your favorite baby toys? Share with us in the comments below.


Note: Please remember every child is unique and develops at his or her own pace. Don’t be alarmed if your child has not reached every milestone by each age on the chart.  On the flip side, early intervention is crucial for children who demonstrate delays in speech and language (and other areas of development), so please check the “Possible Signs of Delay” section of our site or on your milestone tracker if you have any concerns. If feel that your child may be speech delayed, please don’t hesitate to find a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) in your area. Click here to find a local SLP.

 The information and materials available through our website are for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for the professional judgment of health care professionals in diagnosing and treating patients.  Products and services offered on the website should not be construed as any form of speech therapy. Visit our legal page for more.

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