Finding the perfect toy for your child or for a gift can seem like a daunting task at first. To make your shopping experience a bit easier, keep these five simple steps in mind:
- Age appropriateness – Look at the manufacturer’s suggested age grading on the products as a starting place. This labeling is based upon developmental milestones of children. You want something that will engage not bore. In addition, toys are tested to meet the safety standards at different age levels.
- Open-ended play – Select toys that allow for this type of play since it encourages developing imaginations. Children learn about themselves and their environment through play in general; open-ended play lets children be creative and act out various scenarios as they express themselves.
- Don’t give into the hype! What’s hot now may not be hot next week so look for a toy that will engage your child. Hot or not, a toy your child enjoys will find its way out of the toy chest more often than not.
- Interests – Choose toys that suit the child’s interests. Does he like music? Maybe a toy piano or microphone would be ideal. Does she like sports? Then an outdoor toy such as a lacrosse set or tee-ball set may be perfect.
- Classic play patterns – Based upon age and interest you can’t go wrong with a classic toy such as blocks, puzzles, dolls, cars, etc. Think of what you enjoyed as a child and view the new, updated versions of your classic and favorite.
Most importantly, if you still have doubts then don’t be afraid to ask for help! When shopping at a local toy store, feel free to ask a salesperson for his/her recommendations. Even if you don’t choose the suggested product, you can discover what other children that age are enjoying and purchasing.
Remember … it’s all about fun and learning through play!