As the holidays roll around, or birthdays sneak up on you, many people often try to purchase toys that are not only fun, but educational, for the children in their lives.
But how do you know what is an age appropriate toy for the child’s developmental stage?
As a rule of thumb, one a child starts gaining the ability to move on their own (usually around 7 to 12 months) by rolling over, scooting, pulling themselves up and standing, you should focus on toys that they can play pretend with. At this stage of development, they usually know and respond to their own names and they have learned at least some of the body parts. Age appropriate toys include dolls, puppets, vehicles, and toys to build with. To help facilitate the child’s physical development, large balls, or push and pull toys are recommended.
Once a child hits 1 year old, they tend to be more mobile. They should be able to walk and climb stairs and need adults to keep them safe. At this stage in development they usually like stories so books with simple pictures of real objects are a good choice. Puzzles with large pieces are a great choice for children in this age group. Another great option to promote language learning is any toy that encourages sing along, rhyming, or telling stories. To inspire the child’s creativity, wide non-toxic markers or crayons are also a good choice, as well as items that the can play pretend with, like dolls or action figures, toy phones, puppets, stuffed toys, and realistic vehicles. Toys that encourage the child to build with are always a great choice.
At the toddler stage of development (around 3 years old), the child is quickly learning language and their play tends to a lot of physical experimentation like jumping off items and climbing. They have usually gained enough physical dexterity to handle and manipulate smaller items. Toys should focus on developing their ability to solve problems, play pretend, and build. Developmentally appropriate toys to help develop problem solving include wood puzzles and building blocks that snap together. Toys that encourage them to play pretend include child sized furniture sets, dress up clothes, and dolls and action figures. Sand and water toys are a great addition if possible. Items like crayons, a chalkboard and large coloured chalks, and non-toxic markers are always a great item to encourage the young child to start to draw with. Coloured construction paper, blunt scissors, large paint brushes and finger paints are also a great item for toddlers to begin to experiment with to help encourage the growth of their creative abilities.
Smart Alley has a large array of educational and fun toys for kids of all ages and their website is easy to navigate and already has the appropriate toys separated by age to help you make the right selection.0