Selecting the right toys for your child is hardly child’s play as many parents have realised through trial and error, usually the latter more so than the former. Any toy bought for a child needs to be age-appropriate, which not only means safe for them to play with, but also capable of stimulating their interest and senses, arousing their natural curiosity and holding up under pressure – young kids more often than not push their toys to the limits of endurance!
Here are four simple guidelines for selecting age-appropriate toys for your child.
Read the recommendations on the box
There’s a good reason why there are recommendations on toy boxes, and that’s to help parents select the toys that are most appropriate for their children. This not only means they won’t harm themselves, for example by swallowing small pieces, because it also means the toys that parents buy for their kids should be suitable for their age and their level of development.
Don’t go overboard
Whilst it may feel great to buy toys regularly for your child, don’t overlook the fact that your child will not only become bored more easily due to being overwhelmed with the amount of toys he or she has to play with, but that they’ll also come to expect toys to be bought for them on a frequent basis. Give plenty of thought to the toys you buy your child, and when they start to pile up, give or put away the toys they’re no longer interested in, you’ll find a few well selected toys go a lot further than a heap of toys they’ve become bored with.
If you don’t want your child playing with certain toys (toy guns and dolls that emphasis beauty and/or skin colour are among those that spring to mind first) don’t budge, especially when they throw a tantrum because all their friends have them. Every parent has their reasons for not wanting their child to play with certain toys, and they’re more often than not, very good reasons for thinking that way. Moreover, if you give in to your child’s tantrums, you’ve opened the door for many more to follow.
Non-toy toys are great fun too!
Household items are great non-toy toys and it’s amazing just how much fun a young child can have with a few household items whilst under supervision. Your kitchen is a great place to start because items like measuring cups, bowls and whisks provide youngsters with seemingly endless entertainment, plus with items like these you could also throw some water, natural food-dye and bubbles into the mix, just think of how much fun they can have mixing coloured, bubbly water.
These are four very simple guidelines that all parents can make sense of when buying toys for their children. Children not only love playing with toys, they actually need to play with toys, though that doesn’t mean that you have to spoil them with the latest craze that comes complete with flashing lights or a touchscreen, because there are many toys on the market that will arouse their natural curiosity and help them to make sense of the world.
On a final note, if you’d like your child’s play time to complement their educational development and interest in reading, encourage them to take an interest in characters from books, like the Gruffalo for example. As many parents have found with characters like these, they may only love the soft toy for a year or two, but they’ll love the book for many years to come.