Toddlers thrive on being stimulated. They love to explore and discover how things work and they need toys which will keep their brains active, stimulating them on a mental and creative level. Keeping them engaged with fun and learning can prevent boredom, which can lead to bad or undesirable behaviour.
This doesn’t mean you should run out and buy all the best toddler toys for your child and then expect them to entertain themselves. A certain amount of play by themselves can be expected, but parents still need to engage with their little ones, playing with them and showing them how to get the most out of their toys.
At the other end of the scale though don’t feel you have to play with your toddler all the time. It is very important that a toddler learns to play on her own, using her imagination.
Toys need to be age appropriate so they have been passed as safe for that particular age group but also to match a child’s stage of development and abilities.
Of course lots of free toys can be found at home. Cardboard boxes, plastic bowls and lids, can entertain children of all ages in many different ways.
Your child will probably also be in receipt of some store-bought toys and in order not to be too easily swayed by colourful boxes, clever marketing ploys, passing trends or persuasive sales people it may help to have an idea of what toys are suitable for what age groups.
Buying second-hand toys from auction websites has become increasingly popular. But, a second-hand toy is never quite as safe as a new one so always check for a ISO mark. This indicates that the product complies with Indians afety requirements. If the toys doesn’t have a ISO mark, don’t buy it. Before giving your child a second-hand toy make sure it is clean. Washing stuffed toys in hot water and wipe plastic toys with hot soapy water or use an antibacterial wipe.
Always buy toys which are aimed at your child’s age level or slightly above.
Buy toys she can manage as well as those which will challenge her. By challenging we mean fun, not frustrating.
Giving a child toys which are too advanced for them could cause upset. If your child is struggling with something, put it away for a few months.
Bear in mind that sometimes your child may get emotionally attached to a specific toy and will return to it long after it becomes too childish for them. Don’t dump a toy simply because you feel it is too young for your toddler. The games they play with that toy may change over the years, for example, a toy pony may get a role on a space ship!
Some toys for all ages contain batteries that can be a choking or burn hazard if mismanaged. So you need to be mindful of this, and ensure the protective cover is secured as recommended by the manufacturer.
Here are some suggestions on age-appropriate toys.
Typical one-year-olds are always on the go! They are likely to be walking and climbing stairs. They enjoy stories, are saying their first words, and playing alongside other children (probably not with them). They enjoy:
At this age their language is coming on a pace and they are far more adventurous and daring in play. They like jumping, climbing, hanging by their arms, rolling, and generally more rough-and-tumble play. They have also gained good hand and finger control and can manage to play with smaller objects. They enjoy:
At this age their attention span is a lot longer. They have enquiring minds, asking lots of questions and enjoying the challenge of working things out – experimenting! They enjoy:
Most children at this age are very sociable and they enjoy playing games with friends. They are capable of sharing and taking turns and they enjoy:
You’ll notice the lists here don’t include any electronic games or phone Apps. Many parents make a concerted effort to avoid going down the electronic 'babysitter' route, preferring their children to learn through imaginative play.
However, there could well be times when a TV programme, tablet or phone app will keep your little one riveted while you do an important task. Try to use a reliable well-known source when selecting an app. All good toddler apps will have a guideline as to their age appropriateness so be guided by that. Be aware of parent settings on the devices they have access too.
For toddlers of all ages the importance is for a parent or carer to observe that child, and create a balanced amount of activities for them. Whether that is playing with their toys, story time, dressing up, messy artwork, or outdoor exercise.
Toy time is only one part of a child’s activity needs.