Your Guide to Toy Shopping
No kidding, toy shopping is serious business. The toys and baby gear you buy for your child can help shape his development in important ways now and set the stage for future interests. Are you ready to shop?
Do not underestimate the importance of toys. Toys may seem indulgent and unnecessary to you, but they actually help nurture your child’s thinking, speech, psychomotor, coordination, social-emotional skills and more - even when he’s less than a month old.
Generally speaking, if the toy is too sophisticated, your child will be frustrated. If it is too simple, your child gets bored easily. That’s why by finding an appropriate toy that is just right for his skill level and age, you will not only be giving him various forms of enjoyment but also many hours of education, exploration and enthralment!
So, the next time you walk into a toy store, look for toys that…
Have more than one function
In other words, toys that can be taken apart, put back, pulled out, added on and stacked upon etc. would be your best bet because your child can play many different games with them. Such toys don’t just develop his spatial relations and fine motor skills but also build his imagination.
Suggestions: Blocks, nesting cups, toys for sand and water play
Encourage problem-solving and imagination
Your child learns new skills through playing that gives him the opportunity to figure something out on his own and practise creativity. With time or a little assistance from you, your child can hone his higher order thinking and problem-solving skills. Imaginative play also builds language skills and the ability to recognise cause-and-effect sequences.
Suggestions: Puzzles, shape-sorters, art materials like play-dough, dress-up clothing, toy food and occupation toys
Grow with your child
Look for toys that can be fun at different developmental stages so you won’t run the risk of your child playing with it for a week and it being tossed aside thereafter. Under age 1, it’s all about the five senses, so a soft toy, for example, can aid in visual and tactile development. When he grows older, he can use it as part of his make-believe.
Suggestions: Plastic toy animals and action figures, dollhouses, stuffed animals and vehicle toys
As your child grows stronger and surer of his body, you want him to practise his psychomotor skills further and develop new ones too. This calls for riding toys and rockers, or even simple sports equipment like balls to improve your child’s hand-eye coordination, balance, as well as arm and leg strength.
Suggestions: Balls of different shapes and sizes, tricycles or four-wheeled bicycles, plastic bowing sets, push-cart and toy walkers
Toys that resemble the real thing like mobile phones, cooking pots and remote controls promote familiarity so that in future, your child will learn to use the original stuff easily. In fact, the “real” toys help your child feel big and capable of using things that are the same as yours.
Suggestions: Plastic dishes and food, child-size brooms, musical instruments
To the Checkout Counter!
If your child is having so much fun that he doesn’t realise he is picking up a new skill, then - mission accomplished - you have made the right toy choices!