Tips on choosing the best toys for your child

Children love new toys, whether it is an action figure from their favorite comic book series, or a character from their favorite movie or cartoon. When looking at the top three baby and kids’ gifts, dolls and figurines are always a popular choice, and provide hours of imaginative fun play for children.

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When choosing toys for a child, bear the following in mind:

The toy should be age appropriate

The toy should be simple

Beware of toys that claim to be educational

Toys should be age appropriate as far as possible to stimulate cognitive development, which is most important for brain growth. By giving a child a toy that is far above their age group, we often force them to use the toy in a way that they might not be mentally ready for. Toys that are for the child’s age group have been specially designed to not overstimulate the child and allow for just the right amount of mental stimulation and learning required. While a set of colorful stacking blocks would be ideal for a younger child, it might not mentally challenge an older child who has different cognitive needs.

When choosing toys for children, we often buy something that has a range of features, such as fun accessories, light up functions, and toys that make sounds. While this seems like a good idea, experts have warned that it is not. While sound-making toys are great at mimicking the characters on which they are based, they are not always the best option.

Sound-making toys and those with multiple features, such as push-to-talk, or toys that have light and sound options, do not allow for the child to guide the play. While they are entertaining, they take away the child’s ability to use their imagination and create a voice or story for the character on their own, focusing solely on the primary function of the toy. A simple toy would do more for development than a multi-functional one would.

There are a wide range of toys that claim to be educational but are often not. They designed educational toys with a certain purpose in mind, whether it be to encourage motor skills, cognitive development, or to stimulate a child’s imagination. An educational toy will encourage the child to engage with the toy by requiring the child to push, pull, stack or count items. Children can learn skills such as problem-solving, independent play, fine and gross motor skills, as well as conflict resolution when facing a challenge.

Children learn the most through play, so it is important to keep the above tips in mind when choosing a toy for your child. When making a choice, ask yourself three questions: Is it age appropriate? Is it simple? Is it really educational? If your selection can tick all three boxes, you have a winner!