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Baby Play Time (Developmental Milestones)

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 11.36.19 AMBabies are like sponges, and there’s a lot to absorb. Watching your little one ‘figure it out’ through play is as fun as it gets. We’ve highlighted some guidelines to help you find the best learning toys for babies and developmental activities for every stage.


0-3 months

This time is all about teaching your baby to focus their attention. Choose high-contrast toys with geometric patterns and shapes, as well as mobiles, wrist rattles, rhythmic and motion-oriented toys that make noise but aren’t too loud.

3-6 months

At this stage, your baby will be starting to grasp, so look for toys they can hold, feel and shake like rattles, soft stuffed animals and squeaky rubber toys are good. Board books are also good to introduce at this age, as they put words in front of your baby’s eyes (never too soon) and get them used to the idea of turning pages. You should also have a playard or playmat as a safe place for your baby to work on their rolling, reaching, sitting and eventually crawling. If you put toys in the playard or on the mat, make sure they’re all safe for chewing. On that note, consider keeping a few teething toys handy. Tip: Read the manufactures recommended age to make sure that infant toys like rattles and teethers have handles or parts that are large enough that they will not get stuck in an infant’s throat and block their airway.*

6-9 months

This is when your baby will learn to sit, stand, and perhaps even begin to crawl. Activity centers, balls, doorway jumpers and wood or soft blocks will keep them engaged and giggling. Also, consider toys on wheels. Once babies start moving, they’re fascinated with other things that move too.   Another skill they’ll be ready to develop at this time is their perception and the relationship between objects. Toys they can stack and build with like plastic bowls, rings and blocks will help them with this.

9-12 months

Now your baby is working hard to learn how to get around on his or her own. You can help them with a push toy that provides plenty of fun and doubles as a cruising assistant. Their reasoning skills are also improving rapidly. Put touch-and-feel books in front of them to stimulate senses and help them start to experience different textures. You can also challenge their problem-solving skills with cause-and-effect puzzles and shape sorters.

12-18 months

You’ll know when your little one graduates from baby to toddler because you won’t be able to keep up with them. The goal here is finding ways to keep them focused on task-based activities. Sorting and nesting toys will help further develop hand-eye coordination and problem solving, while colouring books and picture books start bringing out their creative sides.   Tip: Health Canada recommends when painting or drawing, to use non-toxic water-based materials designed for children.

18-24 months

Now their curiosity and imagination are in full force and they’ll want to discover things on their own. Pretend-play and dress-up games will help them mimic everyday life. Anything from paper money to plastic kitchen sets to role-playing will enhance their imaginations. They can start appreciating music at this age as well, so teaching them with toy instruments like a xylophone is perfect. Remember that every baby absorbs at his or her own pace, and playtime isn’t the time to force it. Let your baby have fun and the learning will happen.

Health Canada infant toy safety

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