Leading Toys for Encouraging Development 6-12 Months

Your baby is starting to become more aware of the world around them and are wanting to interact with it. Simple toys are great for encouraging skills in all areas of development including:  cognitive, social, motor, adaptive, and language.

The toys in this post are simple and require your baby to investigate and use their problem solving skills to learn.  You can model how to play with toys to your little one in order for them to know what to do.  This is a great way to spend time with your baby and teach them skills in a natural way.

Simple toys that are fun for babies but also encourage motor, cognitive, and language skills. These toys engage babies and make perfect Christmas gifts.(This post may contain affiliate links.  To read our full disclosure policy click here.)

Soft Blocks

Soft blocks provide your baby with many different ways to learn.  They are big enough for them to stack by themselves and if they fall down…no one gets hurt!  You can hand them to your baby during diaper changes to feel and explore as many of them have different textures (like these ones).  Show your baby how to bang two blocks together which refines motor skills.

The pictures on the blocks are a great way to encourage early literacy and language skills.  Book time with babies is VERY important but it is also crucial to point out pictures, words, and letters that are found on toys or other objects.  By labeling the pictures you are introducing your baby to lots of new words that they can add to their vocabulary as they begin to talk.

Board Books


The thick pages let your little one learn how to flip pages as they are easier to grasp.  They provide lots of opportunities for your baby to learn new words as you label the pictures for them.  Take their hands and show them how to pat and point at the pictures.  Books are so much more fun when you get to interact with them!

They are perfect for entertaining your baby while sitting at the doctors office or when you are waiting for your food at a restaurant.  To read more about how to encourage early literacy skills click here.

Ring Stacker

This toy encourages problem solving skills as your baby will have to figure out how to get the rings off and put them back on.  Eventually they will even figure out how to put them in order from big to small.  Fine motor skills are refined as your little one has to use their hands to maneuver the rings.  A cup stacker (like this one) uses many of the same concepts as the more traditional model but adds a little twist as well!


Large wooden puzzles are great for your baby to practice grasping. Show your baby how to take the pieces out and put them back in.  Problem solving skills are sharpened as your little one has to try and turn the pieces to fit in their spots.

A great opportunity for you to build vocabulary is presented as your baby will enjoy learning the names of the puzzle pieces.  Sound puzzles (like these) can also be fun for children this age and will help them learn animal and environmental sounds.

Pop Beads

Pop beads build your baby’s hand strength as they pull them apart and push them back together.  One way to encourage your little one to imitate words is by using expressive and fun language around your baby (more ideas on how to encourage language here).  While you are showing your baby how to take them apart say “pop” with excitement.  Your little one will catch on quick to this word as playing with the pop beads allows for lots of repetition.

Activity Walker

Activity walkers provide your baby with a great option to play while sitting or standing.  If your baby is not yet sitting by themselves sit behind them and give support where needed.  When your baby is playing in different positions, different muscles are engaged.  I love that this toy encourages sitting, standing, and walking.  We had this one and got a lot of use out of it.

Pop Up Toys

Did you have this toy when you were a baby?  I did too!  This classic toy has stayed around so long because of how well it entertains while encouraging development.  Your baby uses their problem solving skills to open and shut the doors to see their animal friends.  They are motivated to do it because cause and effect toys are intriguing to babies.  Lots of great ways to encourage language while playing with this toy by modeling animal sounds and names for them.

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About Kayla ONeill

This is me and my beautiful bouncing baby boy! Before my little guy arrived I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education Birth to 21 as well as my Masters in Education. For six years I worked as an Early Interventionist serving children and families from birth to age three before becoming a stay at home mom to be with my son.

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