- What are the criteria to consider when buying a toy?
- Are our educational toys necessary?
- Can we trust the age indications on the packaging?
- Is it important to vary the types of toys?
- How to find toys without spending too much?
The child likes to play; it’s natural for him. He needs it to learn, explore, and develop well. Although they may not always need toys to play, children use them very often for fun.
Among the multitude of toys available in our store, however, it is not always easy to choose. Here are things to consider when buying a toy for each age.
What are the criteria to consider when buying a toy?
- The pleasure that the toy will bring
- Before buying a toy, consider whether it will be fun for the child according to their tastes and preferences. This criterion is very important because pleasure is essential to play. Indeed, if the child has no pleasure with a toy, he will simply leave it aside.
To avoid the risk of suffocation, strangulation, and injury, certain toys should be avoided before the age of 3, including those with small parts or with a long cord. To learn more about toy safety, see our Toys lists to give to children below 3 years old.
The stage of development of the child
To be interesting, the toy must present a small challenge for the child, while remaining achievable. Their parents also seeking just to keep their children occupied with toys. If the game is too easy, the toddler will find it boring. On the contrary, if the game is too complex, it can become a source of frustration, and the child may no longer use it, even when he has the necessary skills. A toy that is too advanced can also damage your self-esteem. Indeed, if he never manages to do well, the toddler will see himself over time as “not good”.
According to psychologist Fitzhugh Dodson, author of the bestselling book Everything Is Played Before 6 Years Old, 90% of the play should come from the child and 10% from the toy.
The versatility of the toy
Toys with which it is possible to play in different ways often interest the child for a longer period of time because they allow him to take an active part in the game. Conversely, toys which only offer one activity (eg. (putting a shape in a hole or pressing a button to listen to a song) don’t usually keep toddlers for very long. Blocks are a good example of a versatile toy. Indeed, the toddler can, in the beginning, take them and throw them. Subsequently, he can knock down any block towers you made, and later he builds his own towers. Older, he can create more complex constructions with his blocks.
The simplicity of the toy
The toy should also be easy to use. Even if the child really enjoys playing with his parents, he should be able to have fun with the toy without always having to be helped. Otherwise, he won’t have fun.
The price of the toy
Price is also a factor to consider when buying a toy. It is usually possible to find toys that are suitable for the set budget while taking into account the criteria mentioned above. Also, expensive toys are not always the most attractive. Toys that feature a popular movie character are often the case, as fashion often influences prices. Educational toys are also generally more expensive.
Are educational toys necessary?
Although they can be interesting, educational toys are not essential for the developing child. Its daily activities ensure its overall development. In general, toys have a value but human factors outstand toys.
For example, his fine motor skills develop when he uses a spoon and puts on his stockings. Likewise, his language develops during interactions with his parents and the people around him. Just looking for a toy in his toy box also develops his sense of observation.
When children can have as much fun as they want with a toy, they have fun in addition to having the opportunity to learn. In this sense, all toys have educational potential.
A simple doggie can thus promote the development of the child in different ways, for example:
- Dressing the doggie exercises fine motor skills;
- Playing toss and catch the doggie works gross motor skills;
- Inventing a personality for the doggie, making him talk and inventing a story that involves other toys (dolls, figurines, etc.) exercise language and the imagination.
- Can we trust the age indications on the packaging?
- Limit playing time on screens. Children need to play while exploring their environment in order to learn.
- Can you rely on the age indications on the packaging, but be aware that these indications are more related to safety (eg: toys intended for children from 0 to 3 years old do not have small parts). It is therefore important to respect these indications for children under 3 years old.
Often the age ranges offered are also very wide for marketing reasons. For example, the toy is particularly aimed at children aged 3 to 3½ years old, but it will still be marked “3 to 5 years” on the packaging to sell more of it.
So you have to use your judgment to choose a toy that suits your child’s abilities. You can also go to a toy and game store and discuss your little one’s preferences and abilities with an employee, who can then advise you.
What toys for what age?
As the child grows, the way they play changes. Here are some examples of toys that are more likely to interest them based on their age.
Appropriate toys for 0 to 1 year
The baby is interested in toys that stimulate his senses and make him move (eg: biting, grabbing, pushing, pulling). For example, he likes rattles, playmats, activity boards, balloons, stuffed animals, and music boxes.
Appropriate toys for 1 to 3 years
The child is more and more skilled with both hands. He likes to classify, line up, stack and he starts to pretend. Among other things, he is happy to play with blocks, musical instruments, construction, and assembly games such as puzzles and plasticine. He also likes toys that imitate “the big guys” like tableware, tools, cars, trucks, doctor’s bags. Check other ideas on toys to buy for kids below 2 years old.
Appropriate toys for 3 to 5 years old
Children use their imagination a lot in their games. He makes up stories for himself and enjoys role-playing. He particularly enjoys construction games, figurines, disguises, puppets, dolls, fantasy games (eg, house, farm, grocery store, garage) and DIY accessories. By the age of 5, he can have fun with toys that require more attention and have rules, such as board games. See more toys ideas for 3 years old.
Is it important to vary the types of toys?
Children don’t necessarily need specific toys, but they do need to play. What is most educational for toddlers is to vary their play activities (e.g. playing in the house, playing outside, playing with other children, doing crafts, listening to music, dancing, read a story).
More than the toy itself, it is the play context that allows your child to learn.
You can still make sure your little one has a variety of toys. Before buying a toy, you may ask yourself what stimulates the toy and what new things it brings to your child, for example:
- Does it allow him to practice his dexterity?
- Does he stimulate his imagination?
- Does it bring new knowledge (eg about animals, countries or trucks)?
- Does he exercise his memory and his sense of observation?
- Your answers to these questions will help you choose the toy that will be the most stimulating and fun for your little one based on the toys they already have. Note that you must also take into account their preferences and abilities.
Since novelty is more interesting for your child than quantity, rotate his toys regularly. For example, each week you can replace toys in his trunk with four or five other toys that you had stored out of sight. This naturally leads the child to vary his playing situations.
Examples of different types of toys
- Imagination games: magnetic tiles, garage, farm, store, puppets, costumes, and accessories, etc.
- Imitation games: tableware, toolbox, toy cars, dolls, etc.
- Logic games: block game, construction games, etc.
- Motor skills games (fine and gross): built-in cups, ride-on toys, large balls to put on a cord, ball, ball, bowling, tricycle or bicycle with small wheels, games with small parts to handle (for more 3 years), etc.
- Observation games: lottery game, seek-and-find game, puzzles, memory game, etc.
- Craft games: crayons, markers, finger paint, modeling clay, round-tipped scissors, craft materials (e.g. cardboard, glue, cotton wool, straw), etc.
- Musical and reading games: musical instruments, picture books, gamebooks, etc.
How to find toys without spending too much?
You can give your child a wide variety of toys without breaking the bank. Here are some suggestions:
- Ask people around you (eg family, friends, neighbors) if they have any toys to sell or give away;
- Trade toys with friends or neighbors, for example for a week or a month;
- Borrow toys from a toy library near you. Some libraries also lend them;
- Shop around for garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores and second-hand stores (eg: Village des Valeurs, Renaissance Fripe-Prix and Salvation Army);
- Consult classified ads on the Internet (eg: Kijiji) or in the bazaar pages on Facebook;
- Buy large toys with a neighbor (eg: stove, workbench) and share them;
- Take advantage of sales (eg: after Christmas) to buy toys, even if you only give them away later.
Precautions to be taken with used toys
Before letting your child play with a used toy, make sure the toy is not broken, that it works, that it has all of its parts, and that they are securely attached to the toy. Also, verify that the toy has not been recalled by visiting healthycanadians.gc.ca.
Wash the toy in hot water and soap before giving it to your child. When possible, wash the toy in the dishwasher or in the washer (for fabrics). For more information, see our Cleaning toys sheet.
How to play with everyday objects?
- Several objects in the house can also be used as toys. Don’t hesitate to share it with your child. For example, he will like to play in the cupboard of plastic containers. He can have fun stacking the containers, stacking them one inside the other, and finding the right lids. If you give him wooden or plastic utensils, he can pretend to cook and have fun making music.
- Cardboard boxes also offer several possibilities. They can be transformed into a boat, a car, a doll’s house, a garage, or a cradle for doggies. A dish towel or a simple piece of cloth can serve as a superhero cape, blanket, or tablecloth to place plastic dishes. Old clothes can also be used as disguises.
- For more ideas, see Playing with Magnetic tiles building box and see what to give to 5 years old boy.
The more versatile a toy is and requires a lot of player participation, the more likely the child is to use it for a long time, as it can be played in different ways.
Educational toys can be interesting but are not essential for development. In fact, any toy can become educational depending on the child’s use of it.
Considering a child’s preferences, abilities, and the types of toys he or she already has can buy a toy that will be fun and stimulating for him or her.