How to Choose the Right Toys
All children reach developmental milestones at different rates and what they are interested in varies. Therefore the “right” toy for one child may not be the best one for another. Also, buying the latest and greatest toys isn’t always necessary. Some of the best play items are free and found at home, such as cardboard boxes, ribbon and yarn, and plastic bowls. However all toys should be age-appropriate, safe, interactive, and most importantly fun!
Keep These Guidelines in Mind When Choosing Toys Safety Considerations:
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- Fabric toys should be labeled flame resistant or flame retardant
- Stuffed toys should be washable
- Painted toys should be lead-free
- Art materials should be labeled as non-toxic
- Batteries in toys should be secured and not easily removable
- Discard broken, ripped or cracked toy parts
- Crayons and paints should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, which means that they've been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
- Consider the suggested age level for the toy before you purchase as these ages are based on a child’s age, skill level, and size.
|Birth to 1||1 to 2||2 to 3||3 to 4||4 to 5|
|When buying toys for your baby, stay away from small toys that can fit inside their mouth or items with a cord. Click Here for baby toys.||One year olds are on the go! They love toys that support their interests: building, experimenting, and pretending.||Have you noticed your toddler doing a lot of jumping and climbing? Balls, climbers and ride-ons are great toys for them.||Three year olds are dreamers and thinkers! Puzzles help them with problem solving and old clothes are perfect for dress up!||Preschoolers love playing with you and their friends. Imaginative play is still strong at this age, but so are board games and balls!|
|Hold a rattle or teddy bear over your baby while they are lying down. Give them a chance to reach and grab it.||Play "Simon Says" touch your nose, touch your toes, spin around, sit down, or jump up and down.||Set aside the socks from a clean load of laundry. Have your child help pair the matching socks.||Provide a variety of rubber stamps, paper and small boxes. Encourage your child to stamp the paper and boxes independently. Click here for homemade stamp ideas.||Paper has endless possibilities. Make some origami characters together. Click Here for a Bear!|
|Peek –a-boo is lots of fun at this age! Hide your face with a small blanket or use your hands.||Using a play telephone or toy, pretend to talk on the phone. Give your child a turn to say, "Hello, How are you doing?'||Let's make nature bracelets. Place masking tape, sticky side up around your child's wrist. Help them use leaves and small flowers to secure small items on the bracelet.||Create an obstacle course using items around the house: hula-hoops, cones, balls, and rope.||Collect items throughout the day that can go into the bathtub. Play a game of "What Floats." Ask questions like "Do you think this will float?" Item Ideas: straws, spoons, bottles, etc.|
|Soft balls, large rings, teething toys and rattles are perfect for babies.||Cover the table with a large sheet of paper and pull out the crayons. Show your child how to make circles and dots.||Wash fruit for a fruit salad. Give your child a plastic knife and fruit to cut. Help them cut bananas, oranges, and grapes. Talk about other fruits to add and allow them to stir their own salad.||Make play dough or buy some. Play using plastic knives and rollers. Encourage your child to spell their name or make a special character.||Create a secret handshake with your child. Snap your fingers, bump your fist, dance, and have fun with it!|
|Record a family member singing a children's song or reading a book. Play this for your infant as a lullaby.||Toddlers love piling blocks and knocking them down. Help them build on and when it’s down say, "Ready, set, crash!"||Cover the table with a large sheet of paper and pull out the crayons, finger paint, and sponges.||Make some music together. Grab your instruments or click here for ideas on how to make your own.||Get a magnifying glass and discover. Encourage them to take a look at fingerprints, leaves, and other objects.|
Need More Information?
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- NAEYC: Good Toys for Your Child
- Zero to Three: Tips for Choosing Toys for Toddlers
- Child Development Institute
- Milestone Boosting Toys from Parents Magazine
- Guide to Age Appropriate Toys from Parents Magazine