A Therapists’ Guide to Great Toys for Developmental Stages

We want to help parents check off their holiday shopping list with gifts that will help children meet their developmental milestones.

This year, our team of experts hand-selected gifts that are best suited for children with developmental delays and disabilities at this Amazon Wish List, where friends and family can find guidance on gift-giving this holiday season. Shoppers can also opt to donate a toy to a child with special needs, which will be hand-delivered by Santa Clause at The Warren Center’s annual Operation Santa event that serves children with developmental delays and disabilities.

The following toys were chosen by our therapists at The Warren Center as the best developmental toys to give children this holiday season:



Teach your child good oral hygiene from the earliest possible age with this training toothbrush. Made of ultra-soft silicone, the toothbrush bristles gently clean incoming teeth and massage teething gums. A great alternative to conventional teething toys, this brush can store easily in the freezer if desired and rinse clean in the dishwasher after use. The easy-to-grasp toothbrush is appropriate for babies as young as three months through one-year-old. This is a great gift for infants because it encourages fine motor skills like grasping, reaching, and use of hands and fingers. It also enables the great practice of skills learned through occupational therapy (such as oral care, use of hygiene utensils, and other “occupations” and tasks needed for everyday life). This is an excellent resource for early adaptive and self-care development.


Take your baby on an adventurous safari with this sitting and floor mirror. Perfect for getting babies excited about tummy time, this fabric-covered mirror lets infants discover themselves in a baby expedition. In addition to reducing fussiness surrounding tummy time, this mirror also increases awareness about extremities and encourages infants to hold themselves upright in a sitting position. The mirror is large enough to share with parents during bonding playtime, and the folding storage mechanism makes it perfect for tidying or portable travel. This is a great gift for infants because it helps develop gross motor skills for rising to a sitting position or sit-and-play. It also encourages early self-awareness, self-identity, and self-recognition.


Bring music to your baby’s ears with these delightful maracas. Designed for an infant’s small hands and ever-present curiosity, these colorful maracas are easy to grasp and shake. The corresponding grasping and rattling encourage fine motor skills for fingers and hands as well as gross motor skills for the arms and shoulders. Plus, the delightful sounds, textures, and vivid colors are the perfect supplement for sensory development. Whether it is for soothing or keeping your infant-occupied, these two maracas can fill your infant’s world with the sound of music. The set includes two toy maracas to build development in both hands. This is a great gift for development because it helps strengthen fine motor skills through grasping and gross motor skills through active play. It also provides a healthy outlet for sensory processing development through a combination of sounds, textures, and colors. With this toy, infants can practice exchanging tools and utensils between each hand. This gift is suitable for babies as young as three months old.



Encourage self-help and organization skills early with this toddler’s busy board. Designed as an educational learning toy to help develop fine motor skills, this toy has just the right amount of textures and colors to keep your child occupied for hours. With this toy, toddlers learn self-sufficiency and motor-coordination skills with the same fun and self-accomplishment as successfully completing a puzzle. Toddlers can also learn the basic skills needed to dress themselves through active and repetitive activity. In addition to its function as a learning tool, this busy board is quiet enough for self-soothing and lightweight enough to bring along during airplane or car travel. It is a great gift for toddler development because it teaches adaptive and self-help skills like motor coordination and learning to dress. It encourages fine motor skills with the help of nine buckles, ties, and buttons. This gift is perfect for practicing occupational therapy exercises and encourages sensory development at a child’s own pace. It is a self-sufficiency toy reminiscent of completing a puzzle and occupying enough to facilitate self-soothing. This toy offers practical adaption for children who engage in repetitive behaviors. It offers a hands-on activity that teaches children the basic skills needed to put on shoes, shirts, sweaters, jackets, and coats


Let your child’s imagination run free with this six-piece big red barn. As the brainchild of a century-old expert toy company, this big red barn encourages sensory development and endless pretend play. By combining motor skills with imagination, the toy may help improve repetitive memory, sharper concentration, and better attention span. The set includes easy-to-grasp pieces like a toy horse, sheep, pig, cow, and farmer, allowing your child to practice fine motor skills and create story scenarios during social and solo play. The barn features opening doors and a second floor, and the top handle lets your child carry the toy to any desired space. Foldable for easy cleanup and storage, this barn set is a must-have for bedrooms, nurseries, and play areas. It is an excellent toy for facilitating pretend play, imaginative and creative ability, and narrative storytelling. The two-story barn and five corresponding pieces help children identify animals and learn logical spatial arrangement. The variety of surfaces and colors improves sensory development. The toys allow for repetitive and pretend play which helps improve memory, concentration, and attention span. This gift is suitable for both solo and social play. The barn’s opening doors and easy-grip animals encourage fine motor skills and coordination.


Encourage sensory and oral motor skills all at once with this bubble trumpet toy. This innovative toy doubles as both a whistle and a bubble blower wand. It encourages oral motor skills through the use of the whistle as well as sensory experience through the multifaceted wand and creation of gorgeous bubbles. Featuring a durable plastic construction, the toy produces quality sounds as both a dry whistle as well as an indoor or outdoor bubble wand. With a sturdy handle that encourages fine motor skills and coordination, this toy is the ideal companion for the creation of countless childhood memories. Two-in-one whistle and bubble blower. Colorful, multifaceted whistle and bubble blower encourages sensory development. An early introduction to whistle instrument enables great oral-motor practice. Suitable for wet or dry use. Production of sound or bubbles helps toddlers learn about cause and effect. Durable construction can be used in indoor or outdoor. The set includes a high-quality bubble solution.



The possibilities are endless with this large educational doodle mat. This mat encourages the use of writing utensils for drawing, coloring, painting, or writing – all without wasting paper or getting accidental crayon marks on furniture. Children can use this large space to learn everything from color identification and the alphabet to drawing basic shapes and numbers. The mat is large enough for solo use and sharing with others as well as parents and children to draw together. With this multisensory experience, your child’s imagination can soar while the practical mind becomes accustomed to whiteboard-style learning that children often encounter in school. The multisensory experience helps improve attention span and concentration while the use of writing utensils encourages fine motor skills development. The oversized mat can also build social and interactive skills through sharing and spatial awareness. The set includes magic pens, stamps, templates, brush pot, and drawing manual for teaching color and shape identification. Also included in the set are storage bags that make clean up easy.


Create timeless memories with this classic train set. With its sturdy wooden frame, traditional figure-eight design, and a total of 22 pieces, this train set creatives a remarkably full railway system for learning. The set includes tracks, a bridge, a wooden engine, and a coal car for hours of imaginative and pretend play. Introduce your child to the very first basics of design engineering while creating spatial awareness, narrative logical thinking, and linear problem-solving. Naturally boosting hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and dexterity, this train set fosters boundless fun for learning and play. The figure-eight design and corresponding pieces help develop hand-eye coordination, fine motor and gross motor skills, spatial awareness, and physical dexterity. The hands-on construction process supports narrative thinking as well as logical and linear problem-solving. The sets of textures and colors are excellent for sensory development and pretend play. This gift is suitable for children as young as three.


Encourage fine motor skills and pure imagination all at once with this coloring book and jumbo crayon set. Featuring eight bright jumbo crayons and a friendly Peppa Pig activity book, this set makes it easy for preschoolers to practice using writing utensils and identifying colors. The set includes a pack with built-in storage to strengthen organization skills while teaching cleanup and responsibility. With its portable handle, this set is the perfect companion for travel or hours of creative fun.

The easy-grip jumbo crayons and built-in storage until encourage fine motor skills and hand dexterity. The set facilitates practice with writing utensils, color identification, and drawing basic shapes or letters. The bright colors create positive sensory stimulation.

Visit the Warren Center’s Amazon Operation Santa Wish list to donate or view more toy suggestions that can help children reach their developmental goals.

Click here for the full wish list:

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The Warren Center
We are a nonprofit agency providing professional evaluations, therapy services, and support to thousands of children with developmental delays and disabilities each week. Our Early Childhood Intervention Program serves the entire northern half of Dallas County in 48 ZIP codes.

Services include speech, occupational and physical therapy; developmental services; and nutrition as well as family education and support.
The Warren Center

The Warren Center

We are a nonprofit agency providing professional evaluations, therapy services, and support to thousands of children with developmental delays and disabilities each week. Our Early Childhood Intervention Program serves the entire northern half of Dallas County in 48 ZIP codes. Services include speech, occupational and physical therapy; developmental services; and nutrition as well as family education and support.

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