Choosing the Ideal Toys for Infants and Toddlers
There are toys and then there are safe toys that promote early learning. Of course, not all toys need to be designed to teach. Some are meant strictly to entertain infants and toddlers, while others will do both – teach and entertain. However, no matter what type of toy you want to purchase, it is always important to remember that the toy purchased should be appropriate for the child’s age.
Shopping for a gift for a baby shower or for a holiday gift is always enjoyable. There is something indefinably delightful about baby clothes and nursery items. They give you a warm, fuzzy feeling as you look at cute pink teddy bears and wooden trains. Yet there are important things to keep in mind to ensure the infant or child has an enjoyable experience while playing with the toy.
Following are some guidelines to help with the selection of the best toys.
* Choose toys that are soft and can be thrown around without harming the child or furniture, i.e. stuffed animal toys
* Purchase toys that can be safely mouthed, without harming the child’s tender gums or exposing the child to toxic materials, i.e. cloth blocks
* Add toys to playtime that encourage an infant to focus on colors and objects and attempt to grasp and touch, i.e. water filled tummy mat with floating foam pieces
* Only buy durable baby toys of high quality that will not fall apart during play, creating small parts that become choking hazards
Toddlers Need More Challenging Toys
As the child develops, you can begin to add toys for fun that make noises or require more physical effort. For example, a toddler over 18 months old enjoys the sound of banging wooden pegs into a wooden bench. The hammer requires grasping and the pounding requires physical effort. In addition, the toddler must use intelligence to figure out how to pound each peg and learns to connect the activity to results.
Other excellent toys for toddlers are those that begin to teach young children about the world around them. For example, a plush and plastic toolbox filled with plush tools encourages a child to use their imagination as they “fix” things around the house. The first purse, play food sets, magnetic fireman or policeman sets, or a fire station play set are all toys that are fun to play with but also teach toddlers about real world experiences.
In addition, toddler toys are meant to raise self-awareness. A child that looks in a mirror, and begins to understand that the image is of the person holding the mirror, is learning to recognize him or herself as a separate person among others. Toddlers need toys that make noise, can be cuddled and have various types of textures. Typical toys include wooden building blocks, puzzles and let’s-pretend toys. The let’s-pretend toys enable children to role play. For example, a wooden play center that can be a grocery store, fully stocked with play food, encourages a child to complete a variety of activities. There are medieval castles with figurines, doll houses and so much more.
Parents or gift givers who want to choose the right toys for infants and toddlers should select those that capture a child’s attention and encourage the use of the imagination. These toys are not only fun to play with day after day; they will also provide many more hours of playtime than other toys that quickly become boring.