Choosing toys for children might seem simple, but when you take into account that, when chosen with care, a toy can offer an opportunity for a child to learn something, but can also be a serious health hazard. With the overwhelming amount of children’s toys available to consumers currently, choosing toys for children can be confusing or intimidating, but when you know how to select toys for their amusement and educational values, as well as for safety, durability, and pricing, you can quickly find the right toys for the child. Read the following steps to find out how to choose toys for children.
Learn what interests and attracts children of different age.
- Infants and toddlers are constantly learning about the world around them by means of their senses. That’s why they like toys that they can touch, squeeze, poke, smell, see and hear. They find bright colors and fun noises entertaining. In addition, toddlers enjoy toys that can be opened, pulled, pushed, stacked or poured.
- Preschool children have a lot of energy and use their playtime to learn new skills. They enjoy painting, drawing and making things. They also like to use their imagination to play dress-up, make up stories, or pretend with their toys.
- Older children like more realistic toys that are recognizable from the “real world.” Think of children’s jewelry or fashion, TV or movie-related products, or music. Sports also become very important at this age and many children will focus on a game or favorite physical activity.
Determine what age group you’re choosing toys for.
Research what kinds of toys are suitable for the appropriate age group.
- For babies up to 1 year old, choose brightly colored objects; mobiles with attached objects that can be hung so the baby can see but not touch them; unbreakable toys, preferably ones that make a squeaking or rattling noise; washable toys and dolls with embroidered eyes so the child can’t swallow any loose parts; or stacking ring cones. Avoid toys with small parts especially detachable small parts or glass or button eyes; sharp edges; toxic paint or other materials; toys with long chords; push and pull toys; and balloons.
- For children between 1 and 2 years old, choose brightly illustrated books made of cloth or stiff, pasteboard pages; mirrors not made of glass; toys they can take apart into large pieces; building blocks made of cardboard, plastic, or foam; floating toys for in the bathtub; pounding and stacking toys, or musical toys. You should avoid small toys and toys with small parts that can be swallowed, toys with sharp edges, and balloons.
- If the children are 2 or 3 years of age, select creative toys like play dough; sandbox toys; large crayons; pegboards with big pieces; brightly colored books with music; children’s simple musical instruments; sturdy cars or wagons they can climb onto, ride, or push; low rocking horses; soft foam balls; or simple dress up items. Avoid electrical or lead toys; tricycles that are higher than 12 inches (30.5 cm); small objects such as marbles, beads, or coins; sharp- edged toys or toys with small parts that can be removed; and balloons.
- For 3- and 4-year-olds, select dolls with clothes that aren’t difficult to put on or remove, non-electrical trucks, tractors or trains; balls; building blocks and interlocking plastic blocks; and creative toys such as play dough, blunt scissors, large non-toxic markers and crayons, and sewing cards. You can also choose “pretend” toys such as toy telephones, sturdy play dishes, and dress-up clothes; books; puzzles; or simple board games. Don’t choose electrical or lead toys, flammable costumes, or toys with small, removable parts or sharp edges.
- 4 to 5 year-old children enjoy playing with building blocks; modeling clay; finger paints; simple construction sets; battery operated toys; puppets; stencils; card and board games; simple children’s musical instruments; books; 9-24 piece jigsaw puzzles; children’s bicycles with 20-inch wheels as well as training wheels; and small sports equipment. Avoid electrical toys unless they run on batteries; toxic, oil-based, or flammable materials; kites made of aluminized polyester film; sharp-tipped shooting toys or darts; and fireworks.
- For children between 5 and 8 years old, choose roller skates, sleds, and bicycles with 24-inch wheels; jigsaw puzzles, games, and dominoes; kites; uncomplicated tool sets; magnifiers and magnets; battery powered electrical toys; dolls; children’s cameras; printing sets, as well as stamp sets; painting and drawing utensils; or sewing materials. Avoid kites made of aluminized polyester film; fireworks; non-battery operated electrical toys; shooting toys and cap guns; and sharp-edged tools.
- For children between 8 and 12 years old, select arts and crafts materials and hobby materials; construction sets; electrical trains; models they can build themselves; 26-inch wheel bicycles; musical instruments; or sports equipment. Avoid fireworks; air rifles; chemistry sets; and darts and arrows.
Choose toys for children that will entertain them without posing a health hazard.Try to coordinate the toys with your child’s interests. For example, if she loves horses, you can give her a toy horse to play with, and later, when she’s ready for her first riding lesson, you can give her a riding cap, crop and boots.
Give the toys to your children enthusiastically.Sit down with your child so you can play with her new toy together. This will teach your child that her toy and her world is interesting.
- Remember to buy protective helmets, as well as knee and elbow pads, if you give your child a tricycle or bicycle.
- When choosing toys for children, always select toys the children can safely use unsupervised.