For young kids, the learning process starts earlier than you might think. Later in their lives, your kids may not be able to remember their earliest years, but their eventual brain development will depend on the steps you take to educate them from infancy. The best educational toddler toys are those which take kids' mental development into account from the very beginning, giving them a leg up over their eventual classmates. Educational toddler toys fall into two basic categories, both of which are equally important: creative toys, and language toys.
Creative education for babies and toddlers is not like education for older kids. Very young children learn by stimulation and exercising creativity, rather than by rote repetition, so the toys you pick for them should reflect that. Infants and toddlers primarily learn about the world around them via sight, smell, sound and touch and the best toys will make use of all these senses. Avoid battery-powered toys with flashing lights and loud sounds because these can overwhelm a baby's senses; these kinds of toys are also typically single-function and don't inspire creative development.
Brightly colored toys with simple functions are perfect for exercising young imaginations. Kids are attract to colorful items, and will naturally try to manipulate them in various ways. Multicolored blocks can be stacked and lined up around by toddlers, while soft plush dolls like the Big Hugs Elmo can be tossed around, slept with and squeezed without causing harm. Plastic nesting cups are a great way for young kids to learn how big things and small things fit together, while My First Craftsman Playsets help them understand grown-up tools and accessories. Don't forget that not every toddler toy needs to come from the store, because household objects can be great imagination-building toys as long as they're baby safe. Large cardboard boxes and cartons can make exciting tunnels for kids to crawl through, while blankets and clothespins can create a protective fort right in the middle of your living room. If your kids love playing with Barbie Dolls, WWE toys and GI Joe Action figures, they can create houses and buildings for them with common objects like plastic pails, milk crates and shoe boxes.
It's no secret that people learn languages much more easily as children than as adults, and parents should definitely take advantage of that fact by starting their kids' language education early. By starting out your toddlers with games and toys which teach language in a fun way, you'll not only be giving them a head start on their first words; it's also a great way to instill a lifelong love of all kinds of learning. Talk charts display flashcards with kid-friendly pictures and the words to go with. For a more sophisticated option, try electronic toddler touch books or blackboards. By actually saying the word while you kid is touching the picture and looking at the printed word, these electronic toys create a triple mental association that will have your kid speaking as soon as possible. Don't discount the value of gaming systems like the Kurio Tablet either, as these devices can download thousands of fun educational apps for kids of all ages.
Whether your kids prefer the latest battery-operated learning systems, train playsets or plain old building blocks, getting them started with a variety of learning toys early is important to their mental development. Shop Kmart to save on the best educational toys for toddlers.