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Toys that Encourage Speech and Language Development

With the holiday/gift giving season quickly approaching, many parents wonder what toys would be good for their toddlers. My advice when choosing gifts for the holidays is don't be afraid to go back to the basics! There are many open ended toys that are not only fun, but they help encourage your child's speech and language development. It’s a win win!!

Open ended toys have no beginning, middle or end. They can be used in a variety of ways and they allow your child to be creative in how they are used . Since they don't have batteries, open ended toys allow your child to make the noises that go along with the play and to talk about what they are creating.

So you may be wondering what exactly are open ended toys? Well, here are some examples to get you started:

  • Wooden blocks

  • Legos

  • Cars, trucks, transportation toys (they do NOT need to make noise! That is what your child is for. Take the batteries out!)

  • Simple train tracks and trains

  • Play kitchen and play food

  • Farm Set (no noisy ones!) or other animal sets that suit your child’s interests (ex. bugs or dinosaurs)

  • Doll House

  • Mr. Potato Head

  • Play Dough

  • Dress up clothes

  • Tool Set

  • Tea Set

  • Baby doll

Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing toys for your child is skip the “educational” and noisy toys. Yes, you read that correctly! Just like toddlers do not need toys that make noise for them, they also do not toys that "teach" numbers, letters, or shapes.

Toddlers do need to work on learning how to walk, run, slide, crawl through tunnels, climb, dig in the sand, swing, communicate their wants and needs, say new words, sing songs and nursery rhymes, follow simple directions, laugh, love, eat with a spoon, play peek-a-boo, stack blocks, throw a ball, drink from an open cup, pretend to talk on the phone, push around a toy grocery cart and “shop.” They also need to listen to books, “read” books, walk up and down stairs, name body parts, point to objects and people in books, play in water, make animal sounds, finger paint, explore their world, ask questions…

Toys that light up, sing, and talk do not teach anything…except perhaps a little cause-and effect. This type of a toy can actually prevent children from talking during play since the toys do the talking for them.

Some simple, non-noise-making toys like cardboard boxes of different sizes; plastic cups, bowls, and spoons, old gift bags with handles, baskets, paper, crayons, paints, etc. (none of which require batteries) are always a hit with the young kids!

So, as you shop or give gift ideas to family members and friends, skip over the battery operated and "educational" toys and think of the basics, some finger paints and a sand bucket, or maybe some bubbles and a bouncy ball or two!

If your child happens to receive toys that light up and make noise this holiday season, (which by the way was my sister's favorite type of gift to get my kids when they were little) simply take the batteries out!

Happy shopping and playing this holiday season! If you have any questions about your child's speech and language development, or about the types of toys that encourage speech and language, please contact us!

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