The Occupational Therapy Gift Guide for Kids

holidays, present, childhood and happiness concept - close up of child and mother hands with gift box over christmas tree lights background

As occupational therapists, we often guide parents on toy recommendations for children to help with overall fine motor, gross motor and sensory development. As the holidays are approaching, below are some great gift ideas for children of all ages on your list. Each of these toys can help promote occupational therapy goals at home. Please follow the suggested age range and safety directions for each toy, and ask your occupational therapist if you need more specific suggestions:

Babies 0-6 months
The focus at this stage is on stimulating the baby’s senses, promoting tummy time as well as grasping and reaching, and encouraging interaction.

  • Play mat
  • Soft rattles with contrasting colors
  • Mirrors
  • Soft fabric books
  • Soft toys that crinkle or squeak

Babies 6-12 months
Time to start working on hand-eye coordination!

  • Bath toys
  • Pop beads
  • Musical instruments to promote bilateral hand use
  • Bubbles
  • Stacking toys
  • Cause and effect toys (pop-up toys)

Promote pencil grasp
Lots of children that we see in occupational therapy struggle with grasping a pencil, making it difficult to learn to color and write. These toys can help them practice without even realizing it!

  • Games that require the use of tweezers
  • Thick, short markers or crayons
  • Two player connection games
  • Bingo dabbers
  • Bath crayons
  • Stickers

Promote Imaginative Play
Around 2 years is a good time to start encouraging your child to use their imagination and engage in pretend play. It’s fun for them and important for their brain development:

  • Dress up costumes
  • Play kitchen
  • Train sets
  • Dolls
  • Doctor kits

Visual-Perceptual/Motor Development
These types of toys help children work on spatial relations, problem solving, visual scanning, as well as encouraging fine motor coordination.

  • Connect the dots drawings
  • Mazes
  • Eye-spy games
  • Puzzles
  • Geoboards
  • Problem solving games

For Children who Benefit from Movement
Toys that offer children the chance to burn off some energy will make it easier for them to be more attentive and organized later, like at school. These activities will also increase endurance and coordination.

  • Trampoline
  • Plastic ride-on toy cars
  • Bikes
  • Scooter board
  • Balance board
  • Jump rope
  • Games that encourage movement and memory
  • Interactive video games
  • Hula hoop

For Sensory
Children who get overwhelmed by too much stimulation or those that seek stimulation will benefit from playing with a variety of tactile toys:

  • Moon sand
  • Finger paint
  • Playdough
  • Water tables
  • Toys that vibrate
  • Fidget toys (stress or squeeze balls)

Christina-Pierozzi-200-240Ranit Beck and Christina Pierozzi are pediatric occupational therapists at the CA Technologies Rehabilitation Center within Hospital for Special Surgery’s Lerner Children’s Pavilion.

Topics: Featured, Pediatrics
The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *