Toys can be a great way to kick-start your child's play and support your child's development. Children love their toys and most parents will do tremendous efforts to satisfy their playful desires.
Be sure to choose toys that encourage your child to use her imagination, creativity and problem-solving skills. The best toys are ones that actively engage your child both physically and intellectually. The more your child must problem-solve and use his or her imagination, the more your child will learn through play.
Make sure you purchase toys that are age and gender appropriate
Carefully read what the pack says. Many toys have age-range information on their packaging. This can be useful, but in terms of play, it’s only a guide. Your child’s interests and stage of development will probably give you a better idea of what to choose.
The age-appropriate recommendations are given for two vital reasons. First, to help your child’s developmental needs and secondly, to keep him safe. If you are getting him small blocks for making a tower, make sure that the pieces are not too tiny. They should be big enough to not fit completely in his mouth. Additionally, ensure your child has developed the manual dexterity to play with it.
Look for Educational Toys
Toys are meant to entertain children and there is no doubt about that. However, you can choose toys that do just that or you can find toys that come with one or more educational aspects. For instance, you can find a toy that requires your child to sort different objects by size, color or category.
Or a toy that comes with different sounds in order to teach your kid the letters, numbers, animals or simply different songs. Such toys will entertain your child and teach them useful things at the same time. And all children should have at least an educational toy to play with for a harmonious development.
Find toys that spark your child’s imagination
These are open-ended toys that leave playing to the imagination. Avoid toys that can only be played in only one or a few ways. Toys that run on your kid’s imagination are better than those that run on AA batteries. For example, a Tigger toy whose limbs your kid can manipulate endless ways is better than a Tigger toy that can only somersault. Playing toys by making believe enables your child to test his idea about the world and develops his creativity. Research has also shown that this also develops language and lengthens your kid’s attention span.
Open-ended toys which encourage your child to use their creativity and problem-solving skills are the best toys to give your toddlers.
- Balls – They can be bounced, rolled, held, thrown or simply observed. They provide an excellent opportunity for development of fine motor skills.
- Musical Toys – Toddlers love music – and all things that make a noise! You can pick a musical toy to keep him engaged for a long time.
- Blocks – Blocks have manifold uses. On one hand, your child can build towers, while on the other, he can use its pieces to pretend like he is talking over the phone.
- Bits and Pieces of Craft – Colorful papers, crayons, stickers and washable markers can be given to your child, just to see what he can do out of a little imagination.
- Cardboard Boxes – These can be used for a variety of things. At one time it becomes a shop, then again, an oven, then a car or a boat, or even a doll house.
Play with “real” stuff
Your toddler is getting good at figuring out how objects in her world work—like television remotes or light switches. She is also interested in playing with your “real” stuff, like your cell phone, because she is eager to be big and capable like you. Toys like this help children problem-solve, learn spatial relations (how things fit together), and develop fine motor skills (use of the small muscles in the hands and fingers). For Examples: Plastic dishes and food, toy keys, toy phone, dress-up clothes, musical instruments, child-size brooms, mops, brushes and dustpans
In summary, to foster learning as well as fun . . .
Remember that play is the “work” of childhood. Good toys help kids learn new skills and practice relationships with others and their world. When you choose a toy, ask yourself if it is really for the child or for yourself. (It’s okay to use toy buying as a nostalgia trip. Just don’t expect the child to share your enthusiasm.)
Don’t get hung up on gender-specific toys. Little girls and little boys both need to learn to be comfortable with babies and with tools in the world they are going to inhabit as adults. Get in there and play with your kids. It’s part of the fun of being a parent.