**This article has been commissioned by Wicked Uncle, who I have previously worked with on toy reviews. As Christmas is fast approaching please do check out their latest article The Secret Life of Toy Designs to see just what goes into making a hit Christmas toy – you’ll find it helpful, insightful and may even get some inspiration into just what to buy the kids in the family.**
Every parent loves to pamper their children, and of course what can be a better way to do this than with some brand new toys? But to get the best use and wear out of the toys, you should pay close attention to what items you are going to buy.
Some toys, as you probably know, work great with toddlers, but they don’t work for preschoolers and so on. So if you really want to get the best toys for your child, here are a few tips on which toys suit different age children best.
If your friends or you have a new baby, you shouldn’t start purchasing Lego and older toys for them as obviously these aren’t age-appropriate.
Many professional educators agree that the best toys for this age are toys that the baby can reach, be fascinated with and can grab/bat with their hands and feet too. Babies also tend to lift their heads, look around and seek out stimulating toys.
You obviously need to be careful as babies will put everything into their mouths, so small balls, bells and loose items are a huge NO NO.
You may not realise just how valuable and useful basic toys such as rattles or mobiles are for young children. These don’t only entertain but start to teach the basic skills which will be developed upon throughout their lives. They are great stimulants as well as helping to improve hand/eye coordination, colour recognition and fine & gross motor skills.
Rattles, play gyms, taggy blankets and cot mobiles are perfect for this age.
Once your baby is a little bit bigger and now can start to walk and talk, you can start looking for toys that will help kids learn about the world.
Toys which help to develop their fine and gross motor skills are perfect for this age group – soft or wooden blocks are great for teaching them to not only grip and grasp objects but to help with hand/eye coordination, stacking and early matching and problem-solving.
Large balls, push and pull toys, and low & soft things to crawl over will help a child’s muscles to develop. Toys such as baby dolls, puppets or wooden or plastic bowls are also great because they simulate real-life and children learn so much through role-play.
Because toddlers are active, can now run and talk and start learning new things quickly, the best way to encourage a little person’s development is to gift toys that also helping them to create new things, learn and simulate environment around.
Toy phones, dishes, also simple board books with simple illustrations or photographs of real objects, recordings with songs, rhymes, simple stories, and pictures are perfect for this age group.
Toys like puzzles, large pegboards, toys with parts that do things (dials, switches, knobs, lids), and large and small balls are also great because it helps children to use their large and small muscles and improves on not only their fine and motor skills but their cognitive development too.
Preschoolers and older
Children that are older and are almost ready for school can benefit from toys that will improve their knowledge, information absorbing skills, motor and development skills too.
Definitely don’t be afraid to give a nice puzzle to solve, it benefits the children and also parents will quite enjoy a few minutes where their child is still and possibly quiet, believe me, this is rather rare at this age!
For the sportier kids then anything which gets them active and moving around is a great option – mine love a football table, kicking a ball around and boxing. You can take a look at the best punching bag for children, and enjoy some exercise with them too.
Various dolls and stuffed animals are way popular with this age group as well. Children of this age do enjoy building, so Lego (for older children) or Duplo blocks are suitable too.
You may find that electronics also start being introduced around this age too. Just monitor what they are doing and what they are playing. Install some special educational programs and let your children enjoy themselves and learn a lot of new stuff, in the knowledge that you have those parental controls firmly in place.
If you are looking for a memorable or a keepsake gift you may like to consider something such as a Build-a-Bear – children love the whole experience of going in-store to choose their bear, adding a heart with a wish and a kiss and then choosing an outfit.
School-age and above
This is a great age to introduce more skilled toys, ones which require logical thinking such as construction toys – Mechano, Lego, train tracks are timeless toys.
You can also introduce 3D puzzles to ensure they are problem-solving as well as having fun and board games are great with this age children.
Whether you are buying for your own children or others, there are a few things you’ll want to ensure:
- There is an off button – you will not want to search the house out for a toy making a random noise after midnight (believe me, it happens more often than you’d think)
- That you include batteries (there is nothing more frustrating to a child than not being able to play with that new toy)
- It’s not a drum set or recorder! (No-one will thank you for that gift)
- The pieces aren’t too small if gifting to younger children (kids WILL put toys into their mouths)
For extra help with picking a suitable present, please check out Wicked Uncle where you can find age-appropriate toys picked out for you, all sorted into relevant categories and into ages – it does all the hard work for you.
Click here to read ‘The Secret Life of Toy Designers’.
You may also like:
- How to Stimulate your Child’s Intelligence with Toys
- 5 Sleep Expert Tips: Getting Children into a Back-to-School Sleeping Routine
- Storage Solutions for Your Children’s Rooms & Toys