How To Choose Toys By Age: Birth to 5

One consistent thing about having kids comes in the guise of wooden blocks, plastic animals, tiny dolls and fake food. Yup, we're talking about toys. Chances are if you have a child you have too much kid gear, and not all the stuff proves age appropriate. After all, how would your aunt know a Hot Wheels car could be dangerous for a baby, or though your daughter likes to make "potion" in her sandbox a science kit for a middle school student will be way beyond her age range. That's why Good Buy Gear works to make it easier to both shop and buy for kids, no matter what stage of life they're in. 

Age 0 to 6 months

This is the time in a baby's life where every little thing is brand new, and they don't really need toys, especially in those first few months. But we know, it's hard to resist small, soft stuffies or wooden beads that make a fun noise. Don't stop yourself from getting this baby gear, just shop smarter. For starters, a bundle of infant toys from Good Buy Gear will only set you back $10 to $20, and you get so many options no one will have a chance to be bored.

Aside from that, for the newborn (0 to 3 months) a mobile that plays soft music and has lots of shapes to look at makes a great toy, even if they aren't actively playing with it. From there look into washable soft items that make crinkly sounds like those by Lamaze and Baby Einstein. Babies love bold blocks of color, and since they can't pick out all the hues yet the black and white items not only look sleek on your hardwood floor, but they provide entertainment too. A lot of these items clip on to strollers, highchairs, car seats and activity gyms, another perfect toy to get for the little ones that usually comes with a mirror, tummy time pillow and soft mat to enjoy it all on. 

Some of the best inexpensive infant toys we have used include Manhattan Toy's Winkel Rattle and Skwish Classic Rattle and Teether. We also love the Sassy Developmental Bumpy Ball and Wonder Wheel, the later you can suction onto the floor, table or highchair tray. At this stage they don't really need larger items, just things that can be gnawed on, explored, thrown, stared at and pushed around. 

Age 6 to 12 months

At this point babies are sitting up, crawling and eventually walking. This is the time to bring more musical products into play as well as things kids can interact with. Let them practice their fine motor skills with manipulative toys such as the VTech Drop & Go Dump Truck, a large wooden activity cube, shape sorters and other items they can move around and figure out. 

Because babies really respond to sounds and activity now, don't feel bad if your brother gifts him or her a toy drum set that lights up or car that makes sounds when you roll it across the floor. Chances are your little one will love this item, which might even buy you some peace and quiet. Some other great items to invest in include Fat Brain Toys Tobbles Neo, anything by Green Toys (they work in the bath, on land and outside) and walkers and jumpers they can "stand" in while playing. Look into getting an interactive toy bundle from Good Buy Gear too, that way you can pull out something new when needed. 

Age 12 to 24 months

By now you can skip the baby toys and look into gifting toddler things. Pretend play has started to take a hold and items that mimic real life prove a hit. For example, the classic Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone, or, if you want that child in your life to stick to modern times get one of the many electronic smart phones that beep, call and chat for you. Fisher-Price makes a lot of other toys perfect for this age, and the company's Little People sets are a great way for children to play at going to school on a bus, working at the farm, riding a firetruck and even taking a trip with Anna, Sven and Kristoff. There's also the play cleaning to get behind, something the broom and mop kit by Melissa & Doug is sure to help with. 

Building and figuring out how things go together is another developmental milestone and big bag of Mega Bloks will not only be a hit now, but for years down the line. Another fun item for the bath that both this age and older kids will like is the Boon Building Bath Toy Bundle and the Yookidoo Baby Bath Toy - Spin 'N' Sprinkle Water Lab. Remember, parents like to give kids baths, so if you are sending your niece and nephew a gift that will make everyone happy, one of these is a great place to start. 

Age 2 to 3

Start making art a part of the daily toy routine by gifting great craft kits for little ones. Melissa & Doug makes some awesome sticker sets, dot-to-dot coloring pads and sketch books. Fuel that future artist even more with a solid easel such as the Step2 Easel with chalkboard and dry erase sides to work on. Play Doh also has a role on the art and play table, and with so many fun sets from barber shops to Disney molds to clay food, the possibilities prove endless. Another thought, Crayola started making Scribble Scrubbie Pets, these adorable animals you can color and then bathe. Our 2-year-old loves them, and you can make a little bath for the creatures out of a plastic bowl and let them go at it. 

About now children start to mimic real life more, so the pretend play can lean toward the realistic side. This is where wooden food kits come into line along with mini versions of your stove and refrigerator. Make sure when purchasing any of these products you are getting it for the recommended age, some times sets have smaller or more delicate pieces that make them a hazard for really little kids. 

Age 2 to 3 is also the time when open-ended items help expand those little minds. Games fit well into this category and there are a lot they can play such as Candy Land, Monkey Around and a personal favorite, Think Fun's Roll and Play Game for Toddlers, which can burn a lot of energy if you roll it far and they have to run for it. Also look into LEGO Duplo blocks, they are like classic LEGOs but bigger and good for small fingers and big imaginations. 

Age 3 to 4

As dexterity gets better you can help aid that by sending a lacing card set or a large hole beading kit. Magnetic blocks like Tegu and Magna-Tiles are also fun, and we found we never had a enough for our preschooler to make the structure of his dream. In fact, for his fourth birthday he got two more sets and that made his year. The same could be said about plastic animals and dinosaurs, while these are great starting at 1, it was this age where his imagination really took the toys somewhere, be that a jungle, space or shopping at the grocery store.

While pretend play rules the nursery look into some of Melissa & Doug's really cool wooden and felt food sets themed around pasta, salad and a diner eating. Don't underestimate costumes either, gifting a superhero-obsessed 3-year-old with a cape and mask can make their day, and the same can be said for those who like princess dresses, fancy hats, cheap jewelry and construction gear. 

For quiet and art time, kinetic sand can occupy little ones for a long time, and it's not going to make a mess like real sand will (plus it comes in fun colors). And since this is the time where kids really want to "do it myself," you might as well get them toys to encourage this behavior. B Toys makes an intricate doctor kit and cute vet set to help littles take charge of their stuffed animals, dolls and little sister. Wooden train tracks they can build also prove good for this skill, as well as 10- to 25-piece puzzles, electric race cars such as the beginner ones by Prextex, and the iFixer Take Apart Race Car Toy, a great gift for any little engineer that wants to build their own vehicle. 

Age 4 to 5

Your preschooler is getting bigger, and chances are he or she will want the same thing their best friend has. This can make shopping for gifts a little tricky, but there are some basic things to look out for. For starters, this is the time they really start playing together, so games are a great gifting idea. Some favorites include Shoots & Ladders, Yeti In Spaghetti and Zingo, a kid's version of bingo. Age 4 also really begins the exploration phase, so science kits can be big hit. Creativity for Kids makes an inexpensive and easy-to-use terrarium and plant growing set and Insect Lore does a Live Butterfly Garden kit perfect for showing kids the life cycle of a butterfly. 

As for toy toys, Fisher-Price Imaginext has a series of chunky superheros complete with cars, motorcycles, robots and other devices that any fan of Batman, Superman or Aquaman will love. A dollhouse is another toy that promotes social and family play, whether it's because your little one is decorating the rooms with you, their best friend or entertaining all the dialogue themselves. Simple things too can wow, like a durable flashlight or the almost-unbreakable VTech KidiZoom Camera that can be used for taking pictures, making a movie, playing games and more. 

These are just some ideas for kids in these age ranges. Really it's best to get a sense of the child to decide what they like, especially once they hit 2-years-old. But if that's not possible you can always count on easy art projects, outdoor toys, science kits and action figures or dolls. Just make sure when shopping to get items that fall within a year or so of the recommended age. 

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