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Creativity, intelligence, confidence; all of these traits are to some degree influenced by the environment in which a child is raised. This ranges from the basics: a loving, attentive home, a sensible routine, cleanliness, exercise and nutrition, but so are softer factors, such as reading, singing and playing, socializing with other children, learning to talk, walk and use a potty. Items to help your child reach those important developmental milestones abound; here are some of the best.

For older infants, aged seven months to one year:

As infants develop their depth of perception and an awareness of their bodies, they’ll begin to clumsily crawl around. While a few tumbles are to be expected, it can help immeasurably to have a baby walker to help little ones out, and there is a whole host of fun designs to choose from. To strengthen little legs, a door bouncer is also useful; these are cheap, easy to install and help get your baby used to standing in an upright position on their own two feet.

For one to two years old:

Once they get the hang of moving around, there’s no stopping your little prodigy. Now is the time to introduce some early reading and problem solving toys to challenge little minds early. Basic bedtime stories can be integrated into the night time routine, while throughout the day stackable blocks, puzzles and pegboards will keep them alert and engaged.

For toddlers:

This is when you can really nurture the creativity of your little one. Huge crayons and markers, dress up clothes and simple musical instruments like drums, rattles and xylophones will help your child see the fun of creative play. Sometimes the simpler the better; these encourage your child to improvise, and use his or her imagination; a critical skill in creative development.

The best toys are already lying around your home. Spend an afternoon building a fort with your child, bring them into the kitchen and let them measure ingredients, or involve them in everyday activities like wielding a duster or dancing to the radio. Sometimes, the best way to have fun with your child and nurture their development is to remember we’re all just big kids at heart!

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