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Choosing the best educational toy for different ages-Woodmam

This is a magical year in which so much happens. Babies go from being able to do little other than be amazed with this world to sitting up, crawling, possibly even standing up or even taking their first steps. In the early months they will not be able to hold a toy but will love colourful things which move and play music such as a traditional music box. These are really useful for just before bedtime or when changing a nappy and will stay a favourite for years.

Once babies perfect their grip, everything they come into contact with will be picked up and stuck into their inquisitive little mouths. Any toy that can be easily held, safely chewed on, and preferably makes a noise, will totally delight them. Jingle bells and maracas are ideal.

When they come close to walking they will love toys like the small Wheely Bug, although they may need help staying on. A good all-round educational toy for this age is a set of colourful, and preferably musical, stacking blocks – initially the blocks will be played with only for their sound and the colour attractions, but in the second year they will come into their own as a stacking toy.

Find out more about educational toys for babies aged 0 to 1

Toddlers between one and two:

The second year is the year of mobility. During their second year most toddlers will become confident on their little feet and once they do, there will be no stopping them. They will explore how things work - stack things and then knock them over, hit things to see if they break, pull them along to check if they move in an interesting way or make a noise.

Pull along toys are great for this age, especially those that bend and sway, nod their heads, and enable some form of interactive entertainment for their young owners. Sound blocks are good for shaking and making noise too, and stacking rings are just difficult enough for this age to provide toddlers with a manageable challenge. Also, don’t forget shape sorters to stretch young minds. There is nothing like noise and music to keep small people happy so depending how much noise you can bear why not try a children’s toolkit or for the more musical types, a wooden xylophone?

Find out more about educational toys for toddlers aged 1 to 2

Three to four:

At this age speech becomes a much bigger part of a small person's life and role playing games start to take over from straight forward exploration games.

Also, this is the time when toddlers begin to play with rather then just alongside one another. A wooden garage or a castle are perfect to share with small friends. Bring in the mini trucks, fire engines or police cars and watch them immerse themselves in a little world of their own.

Little girls will love a Vanity Case, with combs, powder puffs, lipstick and mirrors and for the budding DIY specialist or gardener try a tool box or garden bag. Kitchen games are another favourite – you can even get wooden cakes with pieces that Velcro back together. Pretend fruit and vegetables and kitchen items such as toasters are equally loved by both little girls and boys.

For the active toddler you can never go wrong with a pedaless wooden bike or a Wheely Bug – they come as a colourful ladybird, a bumble bee or a cow.

Find out more about educational toys for toddlers aged 3 to 4

Four to five:

Preschoolers absorb information like little sponges and frequently remember more than adults which makes this age the perfect time to introduce them to educational toys like jigsaw puzzles of Britain or Europe. Show them where you went on holiday or where friends and family live and then marvel when they point to Manchester and Glasgow on the map, or Greece and Ireland.

Their imagination is very fertile at this stage and toys like a multi-storey garage or castle, kitchen equipment like cookers and toasters make a perfect backdrop for them to play out their imaginary world. They are also likely to be full of energy and enjoy being physically active, so indulge them with a set of wheels of their own – a bike or large Wheely Bug, for example. If you feel like bringing the game into the kitchen give your four or five year old some dough, a rolling pin and shape cutters and watch the mini master-chef at work. With any amount of luck you'll have biscuits for tea!

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