Many parents and grandparents become worried at Christmas time about buying the right toys for their children. Many advertisements in the papers and on the TV promote electronic toys, computers for young children and toys with batteries. And many of these toys are expensive.
Young children, especially those under the age of six do not need electronic toys or toys that require batteries. Parent and grandparents do not need to spend a lot of money in order to purchase the best gift.
For children under the age of six, the best are toys are ones that encourage children to use exploratory play, use their hands and use their imagination. Toys that promote play with other children and adults are also good toy choices.
Don’t feel pressured to buy the most expensive toy. A toy that a young child can enjoy with the adults in their life or a sturdy toy that encourages imaginative play is often the best choice. For many young children the box that the toy comes in can be an exciting plaything.
Here is a hint from a very wise woman – my mom – Children often receive a lot of toys at Christmas. They can actually become over whelmed with choices. My mother used to put away half of the toys we received at Christmas (we never noticed!) and then in the rainy days of February or March, when we were bored, the toys would magically appear and we would have “new” toys to play with.
Here is a short list of toy suggestions for different ages and stages.
Babies – 0 to 1
• Learning to use their bodies.
• From big muscle movement to smaller muscle development. By 12 months – pincer grasp.
• Go from simple sounds such as “ma, ba” to first words. 1 word by 1 year.
• They begin to learn they are separate from their parents – separation anxiety.
• Uses all their senses. But everything must be able to go in their mouths.
o Interlocking rings
o Soft dolls and teddy bears (watch out for loose eyes and nose)
o Push and Pull toys
o Stacking blocks
o Shape sorters
o Pop up toys
o Board books
Toddlers 1 to 2 years old
• Start to walk.
• Small muscle use getting better.
• Can stack 2 or 3 items and rasp a pencil (immature grasp).
• Will start to say 5 to 10 words- two word sentences – understands 50.
• Children with two or more languages may be slower – not to worry, they catch up.
• Becomes more independent – “no” starts to appear.
• Plays alone or along side other children. Just beginning to learn to share – needs to be taught and supported.
o Blocks, cars/trucks, dolls, teddies, simple crafts (paper, crayons, big felts pens, play dough) riding toys, balls, simple puzzles
o Wooden blocks and blocks like Lego
o Stacking toys
o Wooden and large piece puzzles
o Dolls and toy dishes and food
o Cars, vehicles and things to put in them
Preschool age 2 to 3
• Much more control over their body.
• Can copy _____ and lines.
• Becoming more independent, can eat by self.
• Vocabulary grows – 250 to 1000 words.
• The more words they hear and practice to say, the better. Add concept words to nouns and verbs.
• Imaginative play begins.
• Can follow simple directions – 2 or 3 steps.
• Still needs adult support to share and take turns.
• Toys – all previous toys and more blocks, puzzles and books and crafts
3 to 5 years
• Enjoy large motor play, catching games, turn taking games.
• Can start to use scissors.
• Listen to stories, answer simple questions.
• Follow 3 to 4 step directions.
• Begins to understand idea of past.
• Gets interested in letters, colours and numbers.
o Construction toys
o Dolls and stuffed animals, doll houses
o Dress up clothes, costumes.
o Cars, play garages,
o Kitchen sets
o Puzzles and games
o Books, arts and crafts
6 to 10 years old
• Children are learning about social interactions, trying out new things and fantasy and pretend.
o Board games
o Table sports
o More elaborate construction sets
o Science and arts and crafts sets
• A great website is the Canadian Toy Testing Council.