The Best Toys for Kids With Down Syndrome

We've found some of the most engaging playthings for children with Down syndrome.

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Alexandra Grablewski

"What makes a good toy for children with Down syndrome is often the same as what makes a good toy for any child," notes Emily Jean Davidson, M.D., clinical director of the Down Syndrome Program at Boston Children's Hospital. Dr. Davidson suggests toys that encourage social interaction (balls; dolls for pretend play) and cause-and-effect toys that help develop the foundation for math, such as counting toys or blocks. She also encourages reading out loud daily, and incorporating music into play. "Many children with Down syndrome love music, and singing and dancing are wonderful ways to work on language, social interaction, and motor skills." Here's a roundup of some of our favorites items for children age 2 and older.

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Move & Groove! ($19.99; thinkfun.com)

Courtesy of ThinkFun Inc.

Move & Groove! ($19.99; thinkfun.com)

Kids toss the plush cube, pick a matching colored card, and perform the given move -- all while learning the basics of game play, balance, creativity, and movement without the pressure of competition.

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Rush Hour Junior ($12.50; thinkfun.com)

Courtesy of ThinkFun Inc.

Rush Hour Junior ($12.50; thinkfun.com)

The object of this traffic jam puzzle game is to move chunky plastic vehicles out of your way to avoid gridlock; this builds logic and reasoning skills. Players progress at their own pace, tackling an age-appropriate level of difficulty.

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Baby Care Basics: What is Down Syndrome?

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Radio Flyer Inchworm Rider ($62; amazon.com)

Courtesy of Radio Flyer

Radio Flyer Inchworm Rider ($62; amazon.com)

This bouncy ride-along is fun and comfy (with an ergonomic seat). It's also a bit taller than the average toddler rider so older children with delayed development can take it for a spin.

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Guidecraft Screw Block ($13; amazon.com)

Courtesy of Guidecraft

Guidecraft Screw Block ($13; amazon.com)

Kids can build fine motor skills and work on matching colors and shapes when they use the child-size screwdriver to put large wooden screws into a wooden block.

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Monster Toss ($40, alextoys.com)

Courtesy of Alex Toys

Monster Toss ($40, alextoys.com)

A classic beanbag toss game, with a fun monster theme.

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Mega Blocks Play & Go Wagon ($35; toysrus.com)

Courtesy of MEGA Brands, Inc

Mega Blocks Play & Go Wagon ($35; toysrus.com)

Kids push this wagon from behind and it won't roll away from them -- even if they stop to play with something else.

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Duplo Number Train ($20; toysrus.com)

Courtesy of The LEGO Group

Duplo Number Train ($20; toysrus.com)

Kids can build a train while learning colors, numbers, and imaginative play. All pieces are large and easy to grasp.

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Farmer's Market Color Sorting Set ($30; toysrus.com)

Courtesy of Learning Resources

Farmer's Market Color Sorting Set ($30; toysrus.com)

The peppers, pumpkins, corn, carrots, and other produce in this play set are realistic, tactile, and relationally sized. Great for talking about nutrition, life skills, and beginning math, as well as colors and counting.

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Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Scoop Set ($23; amazon.com)

Courtesy of Melissa & Doug

Melissa & Doug Ice Cream Scoop Set ($23; amazon.com)

This magnetic ice cream play set encourages social interaction and fine motor skills. You can also turn it into a matching game.

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Kids Like Me... Learn ABCs and Kids Like Me.... Learn Colors ($11 each; amazon.com)

Courtesy of Woodbine House

Kids Like Me... Learn ABCs and Kids Like Me.... Learn Colors ($11 each; amazon.com)

These books teach colors, ABCs, and other concepts through simple words and bright photos -- and they feature children with Down syndrome on every page.

Copyright © 2014 Meredith Corporation.

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