Whether you have realized it by now or not, your toddlers consider play-time as their sole purpose in life. As they spend their day playing with teddies and trucks or exploring the world of books and puzzles, one activity that tops it all is role-playing. With their tiny playsets, first-aid and tool kits, train sets, and makeup vanities, they love enacting roles of doctors, mechanics, fire-fighters, and their favorite superheroes, so much so as living in those costumes for days.
As children grow from infants to toddlers, they love the freedom that comes with them being mobile. It gives them greater control. However, this is the time when parents struggle the most. Toddlers run around the house as a fiery ball of energy, always in search of new activities that can keep them busy. If you are one of those parents who is struggling with a curious toddler, getting a variety of new toys can be a great idea.
Choosing a toy for your child is not an easy job. You must have taken multiple trips down the toy store aisle, but still end up more confused than ever – with hundreds of options to choose from, how can you pick a toy that is both educational and enjoyable? It is hard unless you have some expert advice.
To help you out on your toddler toy shopping, we have put together a detailed guide consisting of 6 things to consider when buying toys for your toddler.
What is the child’s age?
As children learn new skills and have a variety of interests at every stage of their development, it is important to find toys that are appropriate for their age, so that they are physically able to control the toys and enjoy them to the fullest. Toddlers have a bundle of energy that they must exert. That is the reason they are always on their little discovery missions. They want to touch, taste, smell, and see, in short try, out all their senses on everything that is in their vicinity.
Therefore, it is the best time to introduce toys that will help them learn new skills and test their senses.
- Toys for 1-2-year-olds: Toddlers at this stage love anything that responds to their actions. For example, a drum set, when it produces a sound. Similarly, toy musical instruments, with multiple buttons, when pressed, will surely make fascinating sounds. Even toys with alphabet and number songs can be useful as they can be educational for the kids. Toys such as stacking rings, easy puzzles, and shape sorters can also make great toys.
- Toys for 2-3-year-olds: At this age, your child is more interested in purposeful activities and has the skills to use building blocks and complete puzzles. He/she will enjoy games that imitate real-life situations and people. Tea-party sets, kitchen, or doctor kits are great toys for role-playing. Musical instruments such as baby piano and ride-on vehicles/tricycles are also age-appropriate toys at this stage.
Is it safe for the child?
Toys are fun, but they can also be the cause of serious injuries if they are not under a parent’s surveillance. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 251,700 toy injuries were treated in emergency departments of hospitals in the year 2017 alone. Out of this figure, 36% of these cases involved children under the age of 5.
To ensure your toddler’s safety, follow these tips when buying toys:
- Read the label: The recommended age sticker found on most toys nowadays should always be the starting point when selecting toys. The age appropriateness of a toy is not based on intelligence or maturity, but rather on the safety of the toy. Also, make sure to read the warning labels so that you know whether there are any choking hazards or risks you need to be aware of.
- Make sure it is well-built: Toys need to be built with strong materials to be safe – stuffed animals need to be properly sewn to avoid tearing. Every part needs to be correctly intact to prevent small pieces from becoming detached. All buttons, batteries, and pieces shaped like beads should be firmly in place.
- Look out for sharp edges or long cords: Sharp objects can be particularly dangerous for toddlers as they tend to put everything into their mouth or close to their eyes. For this reason, it is also best to avoid toys with small parts that could result in choking. Long cords have the risk of getting wrapped around the child’s neck and could cause strangulation.
- Check the noise level: Many toddler toys come with sounds, but it is crucial to ensure that they are not too loud. Loud toys can severely damage the hearing of younger kids, especially if repeatedly exposed close to the ear.
Does it encourage them to be creative?
As toddlers reach the 2-3 year mark, they tend to get creative and use their imagination. They enjoy breaking things apart, putting them back together and playing with them in different ways. Thus, it is a good idea to get them toys that encourage such physical and mental exertion, instead of those that require no effort on their part.
Often vibrant toys with fancy lights and music make it to the best sellers. Such toys do perform a variety of functions, the foremost being, entertaining the child. As a result, the child only sits and watches. The best toys are those that require the input of your toddler. The more your toddler has to use his mind and creativity to play with a toy, the more he will learn.
Toys that give your toddler the freedom to play in a variety of ways such as blocks, nesting cups, and play-dough sets with a range of molds are all great options for your child’s developing, thinking, and problem-solving skills. Props that help your toddler develop and act out stories are also useful, such as dress-up costumes, trucks, trains, and dollhouses. These toy boxes from Singapore provide a wide variety of toy options that you can check out for your toddler.
Does it encourage physical activity?
Toddlers love all kinds of physical activity. As they learn to crawl and walk, they want to explore the world around them. This is the time when they start to feel stronger and confident in their physical capabilities. And it is your job to support them through this process by providing them with toys that promote physical activity so that they can use their current skills as well as develop new ones.
Instead of buying toys that require the toddler to sit and play, buy those that need them to move and walk. This will help them improve their balance and coordination, and help strengthen their arms and leg muscles. Some good options include:
- Balls in different colors, shapes, and sizes – your toddler can chase them, kick them, and play catch, which results in better hand and eye coordination. Foam or rubber balls are some of the best choices for toddlers.
- Push and pull toys such as baby carriages, lawnmowers or animals on wheels with a string attachment
- Scooter/vehicles with three-wheels – they require the exercise of the foot muscles and aid in improving balance. Wide and low vehicles without pedals are suitable for one-year-olds, while low tricycles can be introduced at age 3 and above.
Does it resemble real-life objects of your toddler’s interest?
Ever notice that your toddler is more interested in exploring real-life objects such as plates or cardboard boxes instead of their toys? This is because they are keen observers who watch everything we do and are always trying to figure out the objects in the real world– whether it is the television remote or your phone. As they grow older and begin to understand things, they want to do everything you are doing.
For this very reason, it is a good idea to buy toys such as a plastic kitchen set with plates and food, toy phones, baby musical instruments, and toy cleaning supplies such as mops, brooms, and brushes. Such toys can help toddlers understand the purpose of different objects in real life and how they are to be used.
It is also recommended to introduce books as early as you can. You may have noticed your toddler happily browsing through your novels, magazines, and catalogs. There are books available for babies as little as six months old. Sound books and books that are visuals centric are sure to fascinate your toddler.
Does it grow with your child?
Raising a child can be financially hard on you. Moreover, the pressure of buying expensive toys for your child after every few months is likely to shrink your bank account. We all know the feeling of buying an exciting new toy for our child only to find out after a few days that he/she has gotten bored of it.
But the good news is that there are plenty of toys out there that grow with your child. They come with multiple levels – each suitable for a different age group. The levels become more advanced as your child grows.
There are several activity sets or tablets that come with multiple buttons or features for children at different developmental stages. For example, the basic level may involve singing, and various animal sounds at the push of a button. As the child reaches the advanced level, they may learn numbers and alphabets or names of different objects.
Simple toys like stuffed animals, dolls, and dollhouses can also be used for a good few years. Blocks might intrigue the little ones with their colors and shapes, and the idea of stacking and toppling blocks excites them. But as they get older, they will learn the concept of creating things and will continue enjoying them just as much.
The bottom line
Toys are meant to be fun for your toddler, but by getting the right ones, you can also ensure that your child learns something useful in the process. You don’t need a lot of expensive toys to keep a child occupied – just a few age-appropriate, stimulating items are enough for some great fun. Keep our tips in mind, and you won’t go wrong. Happy toy shopping!