Toddlers are curious little learners who learn best by doing. Your child can learn and practice new skills by playing at her own pace, following her interests. Your child’s toys and playthings can influence her development in many ways.
Although it might seem easy to choose toys for toddlers, when you walk into a store, all that is easy is feeling overwhelmed. There are many toys available for toddlers. What are the best toys for your child? How do you know which books are of high quality and which ones will last? What toys will keep your child interested for longer than a few weeks or days? Here are some suggestions for toys that will help your child grow, challenge and foster her thinking, language, and social-emotional skills.
Guidelines for choosing toys for toddlers
You should choose toys that can be used in many different ways.
Toddlers love to disassemble, put back together and pull out. Toys that can be used in many ways by your child are considered “open-ended”. You can use wooden blocks, chunky plastic interlocking pieces, and other blocks to build a road, bridge, zoo, or spaceship. These toys will spark your child’s imagination and help him develop problem solving and logical thinking skills.
- Examples: Blocks and interlocking blocks. Nesting blocks and cups. Toys for sand or water play
Find toys that grow with your child.
All of us have been there. To avoid this, you can look for toys that are appropriate for different developmental levels. Small plastic animals can be fun for toddlers, who might make a shoebox home for them, and older children can use them for their own stories.
- Examples: Toy animals and action figures for toddlers, dump trucks and trains (and other vehicles), stuffed animals, and dolls
Choose toys that encourage exploration, problem-solving, and creativity.
Play allows children to learn new skills repeatedly. Toys that allow children to solve problems on their own or with some coaching can help develop their logical thinking skills. These toys also aid children in developing spatial relations skills (understanding how things fit together), and hand-eye coordination. FInd out good educational toys here: https://www.toyhq.co.uk
- Examples: Shape-sorters, Puzzles, Blocks, Nesting Blocks or Cups, Art Materials like Clay, Paint, Crayons or Play-dough
Find toys that inspire your child’s imagination.
Your child’s third-year is a time when his creativity really takes off. He can now imagine something (like a block), as another person (like the king) and that it is actually something else (like cake). As your child creates and performs stories, you should look for toys that he can play with. Playing pretend builds language and literacy skills as well as problem-solving and sequencing skills.
- Examples: Dress up clothing, blocks and toy food, plastic plates, action figures and stuffed animals, trucks, trains, and trucks, dollhouses and toys that are toddler-friendly, toy tools, as well as accessories like a fire hose made of wrapping paper for your little fire fighter. A large, all-purpose cardboard box that can be used for many purposes is a hit with toddlers. It’s also free. You can also pick up one of the refrigerator boxes at your local appliance store. You can make boxes into houses, barns or tunnels. Your child will be able to use their imagination!
Allow your child to have fun with real stuff or toys that look just like it.
Your toddler is becoming more adept at understanding how things work in her world, such as light switches and television remotes. Because she wants to be as big and competent as you, she also enjoys playing with “real” things, such your phone. These toys help children to problem-solve and learn spatial relations (how things fit together), as well as fine motor skills (using the small muscles in their hands).
- Examples: Plastic dishes, food, toy keys and toy phone; dress-up clothes; musical instruments; child-size brooms and mops; brushes and dustpans
You can also add some “getting ready for reading” toys.
Your child will be able to read and write early with books, magnetic alphabet letters, as well as art supplies such crayons, markers, and fingerpaints. Your child will enjoy looking at real-life props such as magazines, take-out menus and catalogs. They also get familiarity with letter, text and print.
Look for toys that encourage active play in your child’s life.
As toddlers grow stronger and more confident in their bodies, they perform all sorts of physical tricks. Your job is to applaud your child’s latest playground accomplishment. Toys that encourage your child to practice and learn new skills are a good choice.
- Examples: Toys for children include: Balls in different sizes and shapes, tricycles, three-wheeled scooters, plastic bowling sets, tricycles, and child-sized basketball hoops. Pull-toys are toys your child can pull on a string.
Toys that encourage cross-generational play are a good choice.
Although children and adults can play together almost everything, there are toys that can be used by both parents. Early board games, which require one to use their memory or are simple and do not require any reading, can be fun for children as they approach age 3. You might consider starting a “family gaming night”, where you all play together. Board games promote counting, matching and memory skills as well as listening skills. They also nurture language and relationship-building skills. They also teach children how to win graciously and how to lose.
Common Questions about Choosing Toys For Toddlers
What are the benefits to music, sounds, lights and music?
There are many toys that can be used to entertain toddlers. These toys are often marketed as “developmental” due to their many functions. This often leads to the opposite effect for children. Your child will be less interested in toys that do more than they are. It is more educational if your child can watch the toy perform. These toys can also be confusing for children who are learning cause-and effect. Your child may not be able to identify which action (the cause) caused the lights or music to start flashing randomly when a toy starts playing music. The most useful toys require little to no action from a child. Children learn more when they have to use their brains and bodies to make things work.
Are toys really able to “make my baby smarter” as advertised and on the packaging?
Be cautious. These claims are not supported by scientific evidence. Safe household items, such as plastic bowls that can be filled and dumped, pillows that can be climbed and piled up to create a cave, and old clothes for dressing-up, are often the best learning aids. Your child will learn more if she is able to use her brain and body to solve problems and create her own ideas.