A dear friend of mine from graduate school recently welcomed a beautiful baby boy. She and her husband live far away in sunny California and even though we would love to have frequent play dates, we make do with emails, texts and the occasion calls. She recently asked for advice on toys to keep her little guy (a few days shy of 6 months) occupied and I was only glad to share what worked for our girls. I put together a small list of toys that have been the best bang for our buck and are most effective at keeping kids occupied and grow with your child.
The list tries to balance what I would call old-school toys such as blocks and books with new-fangled, battery operated ones. We prefer toys that evolve their functionality as the child grows. For example, the stackable (item 5) blocks can first aid a child in learning how to pull nested blocks out which practices fine motor skills, then children can practice cause and effect by crashing built-up towers, moving to learning words and objects, and finally learning how to stack the blocks themselves. Have other suggestions? Add them in your comments.