It’s estimated that in every thousand babies, one has Down Syndrome. The exact cause of this condition is not known, but it’s linked to advanced age of the mother during pregnancy. Children with Down Syndrome have distinct features, and are challenged with both motor and mental disabilities.

When buying toys for children with Down Syndrome, it is important to pick ones that would help them adjust to their developmental challenges. Think physical and occupational therapy; look for toys that can enhance motor skills, sharpen cognition and teach everyday skills.

Educational toys can be a critical aspect in the life of a child with Down Syndrome. Research indicates that the degree of developmental delay in a child with Down Syndrome is not fixed. Rather, early intervention and a wide range of stimulating activities can lessen this delay a great deal. The right toys can unearth their greater potential.

Provide a child with Down Syndrome stimulating toys as early as infancy. For instance, brightly colored rattles and textured balls can grab their attention and encourage them to take interest in their environment. Little trolleys that make sounds when they move can challenge the child to push.

Baby shoes with bells can encourage them to reach for their toes! Simple toys that open and close, twist and turn, stack and break are also good choices to develop motor skills. Rubber toys to squeeze and grasp can improve fine motor skills.

Pick toys that can enhance their self-esteem, such as games that they can successfully play with other children or toys that they can identify with. Examples of these are dolls, teddies and action figures that are anatomically similar to children with Down Syndrome.

Dolls like these can help them feel the normalcy they associated with looking different. They can easily identify with these dolls: they have small mouths, almond-shaped eyes, shorter limbs, larger spaces between toes. Playing with them can help them can also enhance self-awareness. They can also ‘comfort’ their ‘me’ doll when they are not feeling well.

Toys that facilitate speech development are also recommended. Children with Down Syndrome can better adjust socially if they can improve their communication skills. Speech aids include books that have an audio attachment, touch and feel cards, and toy recorders. Since children with Down Syndrome have varying potentials when it comes to speech acquisition, it’s best to consult a speech therapist while buying speech-enhancement toys. If you’re feeling creative, you don’t need to step out of the house to find toys that would be therapeutic for a child with Down Syndrome. Anything with a zipper or a button can serve as a way to develop manual dexterity. Anything that can make a racket — yup, old pots and pans if your ears can take it! — can also stimulate the senses. Even letting them listen to your mp3 can stimulate sensory functions.