Research shows that when children have fewer toys, they experience “higher quality” play—meaning, they play in a greater variety of ways with a limited number of toys.
ParentPal Learning Essentials, a curated collection of age-appropriate toys and books, have been hand-picked by our team of child development experts to encourage high-quality play. Our collection is accompanied by hundreds of research-based activities, games, and ideas, to guide and support your child’s creative play and healthy development from birth to age 5.
Discover ParentPal Learning Essentials for months 7 to 12: support your child’s development and promote focus and concentration with this curated list of books & toys.
ParentPal Learning Essentials: Months 7 to 12
Why we love it: Classification begins to develop early as infants form an understanding of how to group, sort, categorize, connect, and have expectations of objects and people based on their attributes. The Rainbow Stacker is great to introduce your little one to logic and reasoning and classifying. This ring stacker features brightly colored and smooth pieces that help children build early shape, color, and size-differentiation skills.
How to use it: Let your little one use both mouth and hands to explore how the stacker toy feels compared to how another toy feels. Your child likely doesn’t have the fine-motor skills to stack the rings quite yet, so demonstrate how to stack them, describing your actions along the way.
Why we love it: This talking ball for kids says the ABCs and counts 1-10 when caught, which greatly encourages sensory development, fine-motor skills, gross-motor skills, logical thinking, and language comprehension. The 2-in-1 Talking Ball is great for developing gross-motor skills as your little one plays.
How to use it: Encourage your little one’s cognitive development by introducing him or her to the concept of numbers. Point to and label the colors and images on the ball; then, let your little one freely explore the ball and label his or her actions.
Why we love it: Focusing on individual senses helps make children aware of their environment and provides a tremendous amount of information about our world. With fuzzy bugs, feathery bugs, lacy bugs, and leathery bugs being among the many textures that are found in this book, baby is free to explore and develop a sense of touch.
How to use it: Use the “Feely Bugs Touch and Feel” book to introduce and encourage your little one to use their senses. As your child touches a bug, pause to describe its texture, e.g., “That bug is feathery and feels soft and fluffy.”
Why we love it: In addition to being soft and cuddly, Sunny Yellow Lab can provide endless hours of creative play and storytelling. Pretend play builds language and literacy skills, problem-solving skills, and the ability to put events in a logical order (sequence).
How to use it: Help your little one act out pretend play scenarios with Sunny, the Yellow Lab, to begin building background information about real dogs and their needs. Let your little one feel the different textures of the toy and encourage him or her to cuddle and hug the lab.
Why we love it: At this age, your little one is learning and building the fine-motor control necessary to grasp and then pull. Practicing these fine-motor skills aids in the ability to coordinate smaller muscles in the arms, hands, and fingers, necessary for eventually grasping forks and spoons, fastening buttons, cutting with scissors, and making marks on paper. It also aids in large-muscle, gross-motor coordination necessary for crawling or walking to retrieve the toy.
How to use it: Use these pull-back town vehicles to encourage baby’s ability to pull and push—by pulling back on these toy cars, the cars will accelerate easily.
Why we love it: Encourage your little one’s literacy and introduce them to the idea of signing with “Baby Signs,” a book that gives guidance on teaching 14 basic signs. Through signing, your little one can communicate emotions and needs and ask questions well before his or her spoken language has developed. With the ability to communicate through gestures, your child will become less frustrated and more self-sufficient, which in turn helps build self-esteem.
How to use it: Early on, point to and label things in the pictures, and then use the sign as you say the word, with the goal of beginning to familiarize your child with basic signs. Incorporate the signs into everyday routines such as mealtime, naps, and diapering.
Why we love it: By reading “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt,” your little one is introduced to identifying simple patterns. The first patterns babies recognize are in the language they hear from caregivers.
How to use it: Join a father and his four young children as they go on an adventure. Read this book to your 12-14-month-old, varying your voice to reflect the patterns of words and sounds as you go.
Why we love it: Position words key to helping children relate to where they are in the world and how objects relate to one another. This book is a great way to begin familiarizing your little one with position words, such as over, under, around, and through.
How to use it: As you read, point to things in the pictures, and ask general questions, always giving your little one time to “respond,” even if he or she isn’t yet saying words.
Why we love it: Join the bear family as they head to the doctor’s office for their annual physicals—having their temperatures taken, and their eyes and ears examined. Reading this book with your child is a fun way to introduce him or her to the notion of establishing good habits with respect to health, hygiene, and safety.
How to use it: As you read, ask simple questions about the doctor’s visit along the way, always giving your little one time to “respond” before you answer aloud.
Why we love it: This book is perfect for helping your little one interact with a story. As the animals are clapping their hands, stomping their feet, and wiggling their toes, your little one can join along, encouraging hand-eye coordination and movement. Hand-eye coordination helps your child track the movements of their hands and feet, essential for later reading and gross-motor skills. Movement helps increase memory, perception, language, attention, emotion, and decision.
How to use it: As you read, show your child how to imitate the gorilla by touching head and toes. Narrate each movement and give lots of encouragement when your little one responds by touching his or her head and toes.
These toys and books are designed to be used in combination with ParentPal’s WeeSchool activities, an age-appropriate, research-based curriculum built to guide your child’s creative play and learning. Get 30% off your first year of ParentPal with coupon: HOLIDAY30 — that’s a savings of $20!*
Don’t have these toys at home? Don’t worry. You can foster these skills and do ParentPal’s suggested activities with similar books, toys, or household items.
Want even more playtime ideas? Find these and more Learning Essential toys and books on ParentPal’s Amazon Shopping page.