Have you faced a gift giving dilemma for a child? You go to a store and stand there confused…The overwhelming amount of toys available to consumers today makes buying toys extremely difficult. I always have a hard time choosing a gift for a child I hardly know.
I find it’s easy to buy toys for children under the age of two. As they get older they develop different interests and unless you know the child really well buying a present can be a daunting task. Sometimes people will ask you: “What is your son or daughter into right now?” Children outgrow toys fast. That’s why I avoid buying character toys and games. I can’t tell you how many Rapunzel dolls and books we have-neglected and forgotten.
When buying a toy you have to consider the child’s personality, interests, safety, age, likes and dislikes. If a toy is beyond your child’s developmental level it will quickly frustrate and overwhelm him. Same problem occurs when a toy is too easy or developmentally below your child’s level. Not all preschoolers have the same interest. The right toy can shape your child’s development.
Children are fascinated more with real life objects and things, like remote controls and cell phones. It’s the simple things that attract them. A paper towel tube can become a telescope for a 4 year old.
Toys should encourage children problem solving, ignite their imagination and spark their creativity, allow children to sharpen their many developing skills, for example gross motor, fine motor and social. Avoid buying toys that don’t engage your child in an active way…Children are curious and like to explore. They learn through play. The best toys are the simple ones.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Know your child’s interests
- Buy age appropriate toys
- Less is more. A child will find it easy to select a toy to play with when he has 5-7 things to choose from. Sometimes parents will say : “He has so many toys but he plays with nothing.” Exactly! There is so much humans can retain in their short term memory.
- Switch toys. Put some toys away and bring them back again after a while. Your kids will treat them like new ones.
- Buy toys that spark your child’s imagination and creativity. Art supplies are always great!
- Display toys that are easy accessible to your child. That will allow him to choose and put it back.
- Don’t buy toys that your child “will grow into”
- Buy something that will last and can be used in many ways
- Read reviews, if possible before investing money
- Keep safety in mind. Can they play unsupervised with that toy? Is the toy BPA, lead, toxin free? Check recalled toys often.
- Don’t buy trendy things
- Make your own toys and games
- Upcycle! Encourage kids to make their playthings from household items, boxes etc.
Need some suggestions and inspiration?
I have selected 10 toys that I personally like.
It was very hard to narrow them down to 10. There are many I like. These are also liked by my child, can be played together, can engage a child for a long period of time and can be used for more than one time. They are fun, educational, encourage cooperation and are aimed towards developing various skill sets.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Standing Art Easel
I think an art easel is a must for a child. It can grow with your child.
UNGLINGA Kids Science Experiment Kit
Science kits are a great way of introducing kids to basic science and perk their interest. It comes with activity cards, test tubes, eyedropper, funnels, spoon, magnifier, safety glasses and science lab coat for dressing up as a scientist.
A name says it all. This a fairly new product and very popular among kids. And most importantly it’s not messy. Easy clean up is always a plus. It’s a cross between playdough and sand.
SmartGames Color Code
This is my very favorite game. It comes with a little book of challenges. It has different levels of difficulty and it could be used by all members of the family. It’s marked ages 5-99 for a reason.
eeBoo Color Go Fish Playing Cards Game
This a different take on an old go fish game. Unique shape and pretty colors. My favorite! Amazing product by eeboo.
Bendaroos 3D Activity Kit
This is a very interesting product. Edless possibilities. They also have the travel version you can take to car rides. You can make 3D designs.
This a very interesting game somewhat similar to checkers. My daughter’s favorite.
eeBoo About Face Game
Create fun and funny faces. Another great product by eeboo.
Shuttle Art 12 Colors Washable Dot Markers
An easy to use dot marker with no mess and last long. They are also very versatile.
The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game
Very interesting game, my son is obsessed with it. The game includes one set of Squirrel Squeezers, colored acorns, four logs, one game spinner, and game board.
Today’s increasing speed in technology touches the toy industry as well. I was watching a friend’s child play a game on an iphone passively while she was exclaiming: “I just jumped! Look how high I can jump…” Made me sad.
With computerized games a child does very little. Get outside and play. Bring out the old, good games: hoola hoops, jumping ropes, sidewalk chalks, balls, bicycles and riding toys.
When buying a toy next time ask yourself some questions. Can my child play with the toy in more than one way? Can a child decide how to play with it or a toy plays for your child? Is it age appropriate? Is it safe?