Age Appropriate Toys | Emma's Dairy India

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Age appropriate toys


Suggestions for toys and games suitable for children from 1-5 years

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.

Second-hand toys

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.

Buying age-appropriate toys

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.

One to two years old

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:

  • Board books
  • Chunky building blocks
  • Stacking or nesting toys/shapes
  • Big piece jigsaw puzzles with only a few pieces
  • A simple workbench
  • Drum, xylophone or keyboard with big keys
  • Pushing, pulling, twisting or turning toys
  • A soft ball
  • Activity sets
  • Hammering toys
  • Sock puppets

Two to three years old

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:

  • Sandboxes (buckets, spades, dumper trucks)
  • Percussion instruments
  • A large ball
  • Farm sets, train sets and garage sets with pieces to place or move around
  • Plastic or wooden trucks and cars
  • Mini cars to sit in and “drive”
  • Water play toys, different sized plastic cups and mixing equipment etc
  • Play-doh
  • Dolls
  • Size appropriate climbing frames

Three to four years old

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:

  • Building sets with smaller pieces (like Duplo)
  • Train sets with more complicated parts
  • Sets like kitchens, workbenches with moveable parts
  • Dressing up kits (nurses, fireman etc)
  • Fancy dress costumes
  • Tricycles and scooters
  • Dolls houses
  • Puzzles and board games
  • An easel and drawing equipment
  • Paint sets

Four to five years old

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:

  • Card games
  • Bats and balls and other sporty toys
  • Educational puzzles (to improve alphabet and number skills)
  • Art sets (painting by number, bead sets for threading etc)
  • Puppets
  • More advanced building sets (like Lego or Meccano)
  • Train sets and garages requiring more building skills

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.

How do you know if your child has outgrown their toys?

  • Has she only got toys she has already conquered, easily?
  • Does she often pester you to play with her toys with her because she doesn't find them stimulating enough when she plays with them on her own?
  • Does she play for a couple of minutes with a toy then get bored and distracted?
  • Does she struggle to play at home, but you know at nursery or daycare she happily plays for hours?
  • Are all her toys aged for her age group? Maybe she’s ready to move up to the next level?
  • Consider rotating toys. The same toys can cause boredom day in day out, but when they re-emerge having not been seen for a while they can become a delight again.

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.

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