(for children, not for grownups...)
Choosing toys is lots of fun -- for both children and for
the shopper. (Well, sometimes it's fun for the shopper...)
However, when choosing a toy you should consider both safety and how
your child and the toy will get along -- in every sense.
Children of different ages have different abilities, and certain
toys can help them develop these abilities. Here is a short list
of things to look for when picking out a toy for children of various
Newborn to age 1 year:
Look for toys that kids can touch and squeeze, with bright colours
and shapes. Mobiles are nice for babies to look at and follow; bright
and contrasty patterns help to develop eysight and the ability to
identify shapes and patterns. As they grow older, give them toys
they can grasp and pick up, but make sure that toys are safe to chew
on -- remember, when babies start teething they will chew on
anything they can chew on. Activity-center toys with lots of knobs
and buttons and levers are also nice for older babies. And don't
forget stuffed animals and other soft figures. (Many of these are
now washable. This is a very useful feature...)
Age 1 to 3 years
At this age children are learning to be mobile and beginning to explore
their world. Of course, this is the age (actually, once they start
crawling) when you need to make sure that nothing dangerous is within
their reach. They will be learning to walk, run, climb, and jump, and
to throw things, and toys that help them learn these things are nice
(especially balls and ball-based games, preferably with large balls
like soccer and basketballs). Toys that kids can push and pull are
desirable too -- and this includes toys that children can pound on.
(Soft toy hammers are good; just don't let your child near the family
Age 3 to 5 years
Children at this age start to experiment more, and play more often
(and more smoothly) with other children. Pretend toys (like toy
telephones) are welcome at this age, as are creative toys such as art
supplies (choose your supplies carefully, since you may have to wash
a misplaced masterpiece off the living-room wall, and select supplies
and instruments that are safe -- no sharp objects or things
that could be swallowed). Tricycles are a good way to develop muscle
coordination and prepare for later bicycle riding, and other outdoor
toys and games are good choices as well.
Age 5 to 9 years
Children are now in school, and it's nice to (try to) coordinate their
play with their activities in school. It's also pretty difficult,
what with half-hour ads for Pre-Teen Deviant Transmogrifiers every
Saturday morning, but it is possible to steer children into more
creative and educational -- and sometimes less expensive -- channels.
Art/craft supplies are nice, as are puppets, dolls, and other play
figures (well, maybe you won't be able to avoid the Transmogrifiers).
Outdoor activity equipment like balls and jump ropes will help their
physical development (and get them out from in front of the TV).
Age 9 to 14 years
At this age children are participating in team sports and developing
lifelong interests. Equpiment and suppplies for both are welcome
gifts. These can range from sports equipment to musical instruments.
There are two schools of thought on spending large sums of money on
expensive gifts like instruments. On one hand, buying good-quality
equipment at the outset gives children the chance to experience a
particular avocation or hobby without being discouraged by poor
quality and breakdowns. On the other hand, spending hundreds or
thousands on something that your child may not be interested in
after a few weeks or months is discouraging for you. One compromise
that can work well -- if it's available to you -- is to rent
expensive items like musical instruments, and rent only high-quality
items. That way, if your child decides that she's not going to
play her 10th birthday concert at Carnegie Hall, you won't be out
a few thousand for the baby Stradivarius.
Other Web sites devoted to toys
Kid Source Guide to Toys and Play
Toy Tips Guide to Toys and Play
Dr. Reddy's Guide to HP Palmtops (well, I had to include one
reference to grown-up toys, and that's one of my favourites...)
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We welcome your
comments and questions.
PLEASE NOTE: As with all of this Web site, I try to give
general answers to common questions my patients and their parents ask me
in my (real) office. If you have specific questions about your
child you must ask your child's regular doctor. No doctor can give
completely accurate advice about a particular child without knowing and
examining that child. I will be happy to try and answer
about children's health, but unless your child is a regular patient of
mine I cannot give you specific advice.
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Copyright © 1997, 2006, 2011
Vinay N. Reddy, M.D. All rights reserved.
Written 11/01/97; last revised 09/01/11