Choosing the right toys

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Choosing toys
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Which toys should you give your child to play with? Your child has undoubtedly given you a few ideas already, but parents may not always be comfortable letting their kids choose their own toys. They may think some toys are unsuitable for their child’s age, and others just flat out inappropriate.

Age appropriate toys

Different toys are more or less appropriate for children of different ages, and ensuring you choose age appropriate toys is an important way to ensure toys are not only fun for your kids, but also safe for their little bodies and stimulating for their developing minds. Babies can find even the simplest play activities, for example banging things together or dropping objects and making them fall, very exciting. Their minds are stimulated and they start to make sense of the world just by seeing things happen. The efforts they put into dropping, banging and feeling objects help develop their tiny muscles. So appropriate toys for infants might be anything they can pick up, feel and drop without hurting themselves.

As babies grow into toddlers they become more independent and want to explore the world more. They also develop greater control of their muscles and can do things like stand up and move around, which babies cannot. So appropriate toys for toddlers should allow them to explore independently and encourage them to use a range of muscles. Toddlers are also expanding their vocabulary, so toys which encourage them to try new words might be good.

By about age three children become much more sociable and toys that they can play with in groups are good for kids of this age (not that you should stop them playing with other kids until they turn three, it’s just likely that they’ll probably be more interested in group play once they reach this age). They’re also increasingly independent and capable; don’t be scared to challenge you child as they grow. But three years olds still don’t have a very good understanding of how things work (or don’t) and may get frustrated if their toys are too challenging.

Only after about four years of age will your child develop the skills to focus on a toy and understand how it works without getting frustrated. Concentration, patience, and vocabulary continue to expand rapidly in the next year, allowing your child to have fun with increasingly challenging and complex toys.

All children develop at different speeds and parents need to judge where their children are at when it comes to selecting age appropriate toys.

Safe toys

Parents need to ensure that the toys they buy are safe for kids. Australia has strict standards about how kids’ toys should be manufactured to ensure they are safe, but that does not mean that all toys sold in Australia are safe for all kids. For example, toys with small parts are safe for older kids, but can be a hazard for younger children who may swallow and choke on the small parts. Even toys without small parts may present choking hazards for small children; cords may get wrapped around their necks and choke them, and balloons may be swallowed and block a child’s wind pipe. Always check toys are manufactured in accordance with Australian standards and are appropriate for your child’s age (most new toys have a recommended age marked on the box).

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Date Created: November 25, 2012 Date Modified: December 5, 2012