Children enjoy toys that they can master and that are right for their particular stage of development. Here are some suggestions for the types of toys kids benefit from most as they go through different stages:
0-6 months: Infants are fascinated with movement, sounds, and simple black and white visuals. They are discovering their own bodies, working on eye-hand coordination, reaching, and grasping. Age-appropriate toys for babies include: mobiles, rattles, busy boxes, and anything they can begin to grasp, swipe at, pull, kick, squeeze, or shake.
6-8 months: Older babies can hold small toys. They are learning about cause and effect and they will repeat activities over and over in order to master them. They also like to transfer toys from hand to hand and into and out of containers. Many of the same toys for infants will be used in new ways by older babies.
8-18 months: This is the age when babies begin to foresee results, decide on a goal, and deliberately take some action to make it happen. They also begin to experiment with size, shape, and space. Age-appropriate toys include push/pull toys, blocks, nesting cups, rings on poles, shape sorters, and simple take-apart toys.
18-24 months: Toddlers begin to enjoy playing "pretend." This is the time to introduce dress-up clothing, dolls, kitchen sets, and toy cars, trucks, and school buses.
2-4 years: Kids learn a lot about socialization during the preschool years and continue to do a lot of pretend play. Miniature farm and house sets allow them to exercise their imagination, while large crayons, finger paints, and Play-Doh help develop creativity. Children also make huge gains in both fine and gross motor skills throughout this period, so puzzles, large Legos, blocks, and other construction
Read more: Choosing the Right Toys for the Right Age