Toys, Choosing The Best

It's no secret, we are now in the Christmas shopping season. And with it comes the influx of direct mail catalogues, wish books and newspaper flyers - not to mention a glut of television commercials aimed directly at those who greatly influence our buying decisions -our children.

Toys are an important part of childhood. This is why many children are given personalized baby gifts and toys at birth.
With them children develop in all areas of their mental and physical growth. Choosing toys that are appropriate for your child's age is no easy task. The best toys are ones that your child will play with in many different ways. Blocks, dolls, and art supplies are some of the items that fit into this category and have for generations.

The chart that follows will help you and your provider with your toy selection. You might want to share this information with family, friends, and yes, providers who ask the age old question, "What can I get (your child's name here) for Christmas?" A great place to find the best baby toys is


(0-12 months)    

    * soft, cuddly toys
    * lightweight rattles
    * soft, squeezable balls
    * board & cloth books
    * stainless steel mirrors (no sharp edges)
    * gym crib, plastic blocks, teething rings (exploring and hand coordination)
    * toys to bang, drums , wooden spoon & cereal box
    * water & tub toys for older infants

Young Toddlers

(12-30 months)    

    * cardboard & large wooden blocks
    * sturdy toy cars, trucks
    * stacking & snap together toys
    * pop up toys (hand-eye coordination)
    * push toys
    * baby dolls, blankets, accessories
    * balls, plastic trains (imaginative play)
    * sturdy picture books
    * low riding toys without peddles (language development) (develops large muscle groups)
    * containers for filling and dumping (hand-eye coordination)

Older Toddlers

(30-36 months)

Add to the above list:

    * art supplies -water based markers
    * dress-up things, hats paints, non-toxic crayons, glue dresses, shirts, shoes big paint brushes, stickers (imaginative play, (encourages self-expression and language development) builds small muscles)
    * wagons, rocking toys
    * easy puzzles -wooden
    * keys (intellectual development, hand-eye coordination)
    * climbing apparatus, swings, tunnels, low balance beams (large muscle development)


(3-5 years)    

    * toy kitchen utensils
    * blocks
    * construction toys, plastic tools
    * dolls, strollers,
    * toy people, animals (imaginative play, cooperation, learning how the world works)
    * picture & story books (listening skills & language development)
    * play dough, cookie cutters
    * blocks
    * art supplies (as above plus)
    * simple puzzles, scissors, tape, pencils (small muscle development, fosters creativity, self-expression)
    * puppets
    * dress-up clothes (in addition to above) jewelry, purses, shawls, wallets, briefcases, (imaginative & role playing)

Other Toy Purchasing Suggestions

To get the most for your toy purchasing dollar and to be sure the toys you do buy are safe for your child, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) suggests, in their brochure, Toys, Tools for Learning , you ask yourself the following questions before you buy:
1) Is this toy safe for my child's age?(i.e. free from sharp parts or small parts that can come off, shatter proof, painted with nontoxic, lead free paint.)        
2) Will my child be interested enough to play with it over and over again. For several minutes or even an hour at a time?        
3) Is it constructed well? Will it hold up to lots of use?        
4) Does my child provide the power and, imagination to operate the toy?        
5) Will my child feel successful when using the toy? Does it challenge my child's abilities just enough?        
6) Can the toy grow with my child? will it still be appealing in a year? Several years?        
7) Can my child use the toy in different ways? Can it be used creatively?        
8) Will it help my child learn about other: people, nature, or how things work?

Toy Safety Tips

In addition to everything else, you might want to keep the following toy safety tips in mind, particularly when you are visiting the daycare centre or home:

    * always check toy packaging for warnings and other safety messages
    * show the children how to use the toys properly
    * inspect the toys regularly for damage and toss out those that cannot be repaired
    * mobiles and toys that are strung across the crib should be removed once a child can sit and all toys that can become entangled in a child's clothing should be removed when a child can stand
    * toys should not be left on stairs or in passageways
    * toy boxes should have the lid removed to prevent it from slamming on a child's head or from trapping a child who crawled into the box

Toys, Tools for Learning, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
Consumer Tips: How To Buy Toys: Alberta Consumer and Corporate Affairs.