If you have ever gone toy shopping, then you probably have an idea of just how expensive they can be. As parents may know, the expense has nothing to do with toy quality. It is not unheard of to buy your kid an expensive toy, and all they want to do is play with the box. Read on to find out how to buy toys that your kids will actually play with.
A good toy should adequately challenge a child – if it is too simple, your little one will quickly become bored with it, and if it is too sophisticated, he/she will become frustrated. So one of the first things you want to do before purchasing a toy is to check the age ranges.
Infants: newborns to 1 year
Mobiles are great for babies at this stage as they help to develop their abilities to focus their attention on objects. Keep in mind that mobiles are only meant to be looked at, so once your little one is old enough to reach up and grab theirs, it is time to get rid of it.
Rattles and teething rings are great for when your little one starts teething. For your child’s safety, teething rings have to be washable and unbreakable, with no loose parts.
Stuffed toys are a hit with kids at this age. Go for stuffed toys that are washable, non-flammable, and non-toxic. Small, lightweight toys are ideal as they are easy for infants to cuddle and hold. If the stuffed toys feature limbs, they should be securely attached. The toy should not have any pieces or embellishments that your little one can pull off and swallow.
Consider investing in special ball toys that emit noises and feature internal moving pieces, as these toys provide visual and motor stimulation, as well as help develop motor skills, eye movement, and crawling abilities.
Older babies: 12-18 months
Babies within this age range can sit and stand on their own, but may still not be able to walk without assistance. They are completely enthralled by toys that open and close, push-pull toys that emit sounds, peek-a-boo games, and toys that feature turning knobs and dials.
Blocks also capture the attention of babies at this age. A few large blocks should suffice. For safety purposes, you want to go for light, foam-filled vinyl blocks, or blocks covered with soft fabric.
Sorting toys will not only encourage manual dexterity but will also teach your little ones how to tell apart different colors and sizes. Make sure to go for sorting toys that are too large to become a potential choking hazard.
Push-pull toys are great for children who are just starting to walk. This is because using these toys consistently will help build their confidence and encourage them to continue learning to walk. Look for a push-pull toy that comes with unbreakable parts as well as braking features.
Toddlers: 18 to 24 months
Kids at this age are fascinated by large blocks in a variety of shapes. You want to begin by introducing a small set so that you don’t overwhelm them, and once they get used to them, move on to a larger set. Go for blocks that come in a canister so that your little one has an easy time putting them away once playtime is over.
Action toys such as push-pull train sets with removable accessories and push-pull buses that come with removable people are especially popular with kids at this age. Activity toys that encourage climbing or crawling are also quite a hit – just make sure that they have the appropriate safety features.
Telephone toys allow kids at this age to engage in role-play fun. They are integral in stimulating your little one’s learning, plus they help develop their motor skills. To further enhance your child’s gross and fine motor skills, consider pounding toys such as soft hammers. These are also great for teaching hand-eye coordination.
Toddlers: 2-3 years
If you have a child at this stage, you might have picked on how creative they are becoming with their play. Most of them enjoy engaging in make-up and fantasy, and you will find them trying to imitate adult-like activities. As a result, they thoroughly enjoy playing with realistic toys. Talking dolls and toys in general fascinate them. Just make sure that the dolls you get them speak in simple, clear phrases that they can easily pick up on.
Children in this age group also find knobs and decals very appealing, so toy dashboards are unsurprisingly popular. A dashboard with several different features will capture their attention for extended periods, as long as it is easy to use.
Consider buying your little one occupational toys, such as a miniature building set or doctor’s kit, to inspire creative play. These types are especially great if your child is familiar with the occupation that they represent.
If your child has shown an appreciation for cars, why not get him/her a couple of trucks. These toys can be played with both indoors and outdoors, plus they encourage kids to get creative. Look for trucks that have moving parts, but be wary of sharp edges. You also want to go for trucks that have securely attached wheels so that you don’t have to worry about your little one somehow pulling them off.
Look for puzzles for a child in this age group to hone hand-eye coordination skills, shape recognition, matching skills, and concentration. Before buying a puzzle, check the box to see the age bracket that it is best suited for. You also want to make sure that the pieces aren’t too small that they could become a choking hazard.
You might also want to buy wind-up trains for your toddler at this age. Keep in mind that you will need to assemble the tracks, but most kids can place the train on the tracks on their own.
A popular toy isn’t necessarily suitable for every child, so when shopping for toys, you want to consider your child’s personality, as well as their likes and dislikes. Another crucial consideration to keep in mind is toy safety. Make sure that any toy you buy for your little one won't cause him/her harm in any way. Lastly, the toys you select must help your kids grow and develop.