Choosing Toys and Materials
Stores today are filled with literally thousands of toys and educational items for toddlers. You have probably already discovered that not all are created equal. There are many considerations to keep in mind when purchasing learning materials and toys for your child.
The first concern must be safety. Even a sturdy, well-constructed toy can be a danger for a child too young to use it. Look at the label on the item for a suggested age range. This is a not a guarantee that the toy will be appropriate for your child, but it does serve as a useful guideline. Toys for children under the age of three have special restrictions that need to be followed. They must be large enough so that a child who puts it in his mouth will not choke. Be on the lookout for larger toys with smaller parts that can fall off or be easily removed. Avoid toys with sharp edges, points, or hinges that can pinch.
Watch for feelings of competition and keeping up with the Joneses in your toy shopping. You live in a complex culture, under a barrage of constant advertising about having more and doing more. Ask yourself if a two-year-old really needs a laptop, the latest digital gadget, or clothing with cool logos.
It is a common scenario. You go from store to store, desperately seeking the latest “hot” toy that your child has been demanding for his holiday gift. You wrap it up with fancy ribbons and are eager for him to open it. The moment arrives! He is thrilled when he removes the toy from the box. However, ten minutes later, when he has pushed all the buttons and rung all the bells, he’s already bored with it. Then he finds a new toy that captures his interest and imagination. Sure enough, he spends the rest of the morning playing with the box!
Too many toys that are on the market today are tied into popular television programs or pop culture. While they may be very attractive to your child, their usefulness can be limited. A worthwhile toy encourages your child to use it in a variety of ways. It inspires creativity and engages his imagination, inviting him to pick it up again and again. He will find new and exciting ways to play with it as he grows.
Building a Toy Collection
As your child grows, you will be adding more and more toys and learning materials to his collection. Try to provide a wide range of items that will help your child develop in many ways. Purchase toys that will help your child practice motor skills and coordination. Good toys for toddlers include push toys, wagons, balls, and simple puzzles. Do not forget to include dolls, large action figures, dress-up clothes, and props. These toys help your child work though his emotions. They also let him try out different roles and encourage his imagination. Other toys will help your child with problem solving, and language and cognitive skills, such as blocks, games, puzzles, books, and puppets.