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How to Choose the Right Toys For Your Kids

dad teaching his son to design toy

Now the cost of raising children isn’t cheap (especially for first time parents) so deciding which toys to buy for your kids is an important one. Unfortunately, when we make buying mistakes, we can’t always reverse them. So, ensuring you don’t waste your money is imperative.

It also difficult to choose just how educational a toy should be. We all like the thought of our kids learning while they are playing. 

The only problem is, sometimes we can go over the top with this. Don’t forget, your kids are at school for a large part of the day. Letting them play and enjoy themselves is equally as important as learning.

There are a lot of toys purchased each year that are either too big or too small. Just ensure you are buying a toy that your kid can grow into. Buying something that is the right size may only last them for a few months.

Keep them simple

Don’t buy toys that are complicated and hard to use. You really want your child to use their imagination and dream of being in another world. Instead of buying toy figures that talk and move, buy your child something where they have to mimic all of the movements and sounds. That way, they get a chance to experiment and really use their imagination expanding their thoughts.

You generally find when a toy is too specific it limits the child’s ability to use their imagination. That’s why the best toys are always the simplest.

Safety

The first thing you need to look at when purchasing a toy for your child are the safety features. Things that could cause a hazard, loose parts, strings, potential choking hazards etc are certainly things to look out for. Most UK toys have to be manufactured to a certain standard set out in the Toy (Safety) Regulations 2011 (previously the Toy Safety Regulations 1995 - updated in 2010.

Age Restrictions

When you are choosing your next toy, pay close attention to the age range of the toy. Now, this will vary depending on which website you go to and it the size of your child will also have a pretty strong bearing on your choice. 

For example, some children are very tall for their age, whilst, others are small. If you ever find yourself in this situation, your best bet is to either email or call the retailer and ask the question.

Most products these days show the full dimensions of your product, so it will make it easier for you to make an informed decision by actually measuring the toy with your child’s height etc. 

Don’t forget, if you are ever unsure, send an email or pick up the phone and ask. This will cut down on items needing to be returned and exchanged.

You will be surprised to find just how many toys were purchased only to end up in landfill because they were either too small or too tight for their kids to fit into.

Activity

As you know, toys aren’t just for playing with. If you purchase a toy, on some level you want it to form part of an activity to help aid your kids development. The more involved they are, the more they will grow and learn. 

Studies have shown that kids learn a lot better through play. Piaget's (1936) theory of cognitive development explains how a child constructs a mental model of the world. He didn’t agree that intelligence was a fixed trait and regarded cognitive development was a process that happened over a period of time as the child matures.

Sensory Stimulation

If your new toy doesn’t make some form of sound and it doesn’t light up, then sensory stimulation is decreased dramatically. That’s why buying toys that have both of these features really increases the chance of increasing sensory stimulation.

Throw in a few games related to that toy and it makes for a very powerful combination.

Functionality

The functionality of a certain toy can actually be tied to the last point. Any toy that has some form of functionality (can serve more than one purpose) make for really good toys. For example, some toys double up as chairs, tables while others help your kids learn their ABC’s and counting up to 10-50-100.

Education in Measured Doses

child thinking while learning

Now, all of the points that we have mentioned are great. However, we don’t want to go too overboard when comes to education. Go too far in this direction and we are likely to turn kids of that toy completely.

Even though learning should happen both in and out of school, it shouldn’t be the main reason why you purchase a particular toy. 

When they are at home or outside in the park, this is exactly the right time for them to have as much fun as possible and goof around without a care in the world. It’s also the best time for them to catapult themselves into a world of make-believe.

In Summary

There are no right and wrong answers here. Choosing the right toys for your kids is always going to be a subjective choice at the end of the day. With any luck, this article will have given you a few extra pointers to think about it.

Finding the right balance of education and fun is not easy, but not impossible either. I think is choosing the right toy and then choosing when and what time your kid plays with it. Some toys are designed to be played with for hours, while others for only a few minutes.

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