I have already listed out some of my favorite STEM toys for toddlers in a previous post. As I said there, STEM toys at this age (whether babies or toddlers) should be encouraging kids to problem solve or inspire curiosity.
When my wife and I were first picking out toys, we honestly did not think of them as “STEM toys”, but we did know we wanted our daughter to have a broad range of experiences. This included lots of different types of toys, some of which focused on numbers, shapes, and building.
For babies, toys accomplish this in many ways:
- Helping infants learn shapes and/or numbers
- Teaching basic cause and effect
- Allowing babies to build things
- Introducing little ones to speed and distance
All of the STEM toys for babies listed here should accomplish at least one, if not more, of these things. What they will not do is teach your baby how to solve differential equations or build a bridge.
Fisher Price Rock-A-Stack
The multi-color ring stack is a timeless toy that has been around for quite awhile in different configurations. In a very basic way, your infant gets to build a stack of rings while trying to determine how to so with the varying sized rings.
STEM skills: sequencing, spatial awareness, problem solving
Fisher Price Baby’s First Blocks
I’ve already discussed why I think playing with blocks is a valuable activity for developing STEM skills, or just plain development. It’s truly amazing what something as simple as a wooden or plastic block can do for infants.
As for this specific toy, it is even more iconic than the ring stack. If I went to my grandmother’s house now, I’m sure I could find some version of it that belonged to either my dad or one of my six aunts and uncles.
STEM skills: spatial reasoning, math, balance and symmetry
Melissa and Doug First Bead Maze
Yet another take on a classic toy. There are so many variations of this same idea, but I appreciate this one from a STEM perspective because of the use of wooden shapes (in particular gears).
These mazes are great for developing sensory and fine motor skills. This one is even better with a suction base that ensures it stays in place when your baby uses it.
STEM Skills: shapes, mechanics (gears),
First Years Stack Up Cup Toys
These cups have gotten so much mileage at my house. My daughter has had hers for as long as she has taken baths in a tub.
She has done everything with them: counted them, experimented with stacking them (unsuccessfully) in different orders, named their colors, and more.
STEM Skills: counting, spatial reasoning
Little Tikes Ball Drop and Roll
I know these are supposed to target babies, but who doesn’t enjoy a good display of gravity. There’s just something satisfying about watching a ball or marble (marble runs, yay!) roll downhill.
This simplified marble run is quite convenient and safe for infants to use. Big plastic ball and single-piece plastic components make sure they can learn basic energy principles and cause and effect.
STEM Skills: physics (energy), cause and effect
Melissa and Doug Match & Roll Shape Sorter
The shape sorter is a take on a relatively old design. Melissa and Doug do what they do best here: wooden construction combined with lots of colors. As for the sorter itself, it includes 8 different shapes for babies to play with and conceptually identify.
STEM skills: problem solving, shapes, spatial relationships
Plui Rain Cloud Tub Toy
This one is a bit of stretch to me, but I wanted to include something different than the other toys I’ve listed here.
At first glance, the Rain Cloud tub toy is not much different than other tub toys. There’s a little bit of “science” since it is a cloud “raining” water, which could lead to a conversation about the water cycle. But not with a baby.
But, I appreciate the physics and cause-and-effect demonstration involved: you or your child can hold the cloud up, allowing water to rain, but then once you cover the hole on top the water stops. As they get older, you can explain; but, at infant ages, it’s just a simple scientific marvel.
STEM Skills: physics, cause and effect
Melissa and Doug Nesting and Sorting Garages and Cars
Another Melissa and Doug product. This one is another take on number and shape sorting. The different sized garages can help infants begin to learn size (spatial reasoning), in addition to shapes and colors. Add in the typical sensory and fine motor skill development, and this is not a bad toy to pick up (note: unlike some of the other toys on this list, we have not actually owned this one, but images and reviews make me think it’s a solid choice; love to hear in comments if anyone has had a different experience).
STEM Skills: problems solving, shapes, spatial reasoning
Melissa and Doug Stack and Count Wooden Parking Garage
I’m a bigger fan of the Sorting Garages toy listed above, but this one has the benefit of reinforcing the notion of counting by having the cars stacked (to go with the printed numbers).
STEM Skills: counting