Choose the Best Toy for Your Child
How often do you walk out of the toy store with your child clutching a toy that they “love, love, love” only to find that very same toy tossed aside and forgotten a few days later? Do you have a closet full of toys your child no longer plays with?
Believe it or not, it doesn’t have to be this way. We’ll give you some tips on how to find a wonderful toy that your child will play with and cherish for months and even years to come.
Make sure that you are buying toys appropriate for your child’s age. Toys designed for older kids can be overwhelming and sometimes dangerous for younger children, so be sure to read the package recommendations before heading to the cash register. On the flip side, toys geared for children younger than your tot can quickly become boring.
A related issue is toy safety. Look for solid construction and stability in the toys you buy. Watch out for pointed or sharp edges, potentially toxic paints, or parts that could pinch or be swallowed. Buying toys that are age appropriate can help with child safety, but nothing beats a careful review of the toy by a parent before buying it.
Remember that just because you like a toy doesn’t mean your child will. There’s probably a 20 year or more age gap between you and your kid, so your immediate reaction to a toy may not be the best indicator as to whether your child will like it. When your child is playing at friend’s houses observe what types of toys they gravitate to – this will give you some solid ideas for toys that your child will love.
Expensive toys are not better. The price of a toy does not reflect how much enjoyment and satisfaction your little one will get from it. Think about how much the average young child loves blocks and how little those blocks cost.
Child experts recommend toys that are “90% child and 10% toy.” These are toys – such as tinker toys, Legos, Play Doh, and coloring books – that spark your child’s imagination and creativity. Great toys will allow your child to direct the play and can be used in multiple ways. The key to a lasting toy is choosing one that allows your child to role play – like dolls and stuffed animals – and one that allows other kids to easily participate in the activity.
Introducing a new toy to your child can be just as important as the toy itself. Don’t just hand the new toy to your tot and say “go off and play with it.” Get involved in your child’s play – interact with him and the new toy. Show him how it works and all the cool things it does. Your enthusiasm will be infectious and that toy will have much deeper meaning for your child.
Also try rotating toys in and out. Having all your child’s toys in a playroom can be overwhelming to a child. Try placing half of the toys into a closet and bringing out one every few days, while “retiring” one at the same time. You’ll be amazed at how excited your child will be to see a “new” old toy.
Remember, with a bit of smart shopping you need not have a roomful of unloved toys. Buying toys your child will treasure will make both of you happier.
photo credit: tiffanywashko