Toy shopping can be daunting for anyone let alone choosing the right one. When choosing toys for your child it is important to consider four factors: safety, versatility, age-appropriateness and longevity.
Children do not always use the toy as it was intended to be used. So take cognisance of warning labels and disclaimers concerning the small, moving parts and materials on the toy. Limit the use of over-stimulating toys for young children. Toys with flashing lights and loud noises can cause anxiety and over-stimulation.
Beware that some masks and figurines that may seem fun to adults maybe scary to children. Children intrinsically need to feel emotionally safe and secure and the toy you choose should foster this need.
When choosing a toy, evaluate its ability to enhance the toys your child already has in his/her toy collection. For example, if you are going to purchase the latest toy microwave, ensure your child already has a few plastic accessories like a tea set that he/she plays with on a regular basis. We have found that play dough is a great accessory to most toys as it encourages experimental play.
By appropriate – in this context – we refer to toys that take into consideration a child’s developmental maturity, their environment as well as their personality as introverts or extroverts.
When choosing developmentally appropriate toys consider what skills the child will be developing in the next few months or what skills they need to develop.
Toys should not encourage gender stereotypes. When shopping for gifts we often, let our own biased beliefs get in the way and exclude certain toys because we consider them to be inappropriate for boys or girls. However, these may be the very toys your child needs to develop holistically.
Children, who live in environments with limited outdoor play areas – flats, townhouse complexes – seldom, receive outdoor toys as gifts. This only exacerbates problems such as childhood obesity.
There are many toys that promote gross motor development that do not necessarily require a lot of outdoor space, for example, a swing ball.
Like adults, children have preferences, so choose toys your child has shown an interest in.
Regardless of our financial standing we should consider the price tag before we buy toys. Often
branded or even trendy toys are overpriced and a fairly priced substitute can be found if we spend some time looking.
A simple game like Twister offers multiple learning opportunities. You can teach your child colour differentiation, listening skills, learning left from right, taking turns, and it’s a wonderful way to strengthen core muscles that will help children sit up straight and concentrate at school.