What to Consider when Buying Toys for Kids

Have you ever needed to buy last-minute toys for kids but you weren’t sure which toy to get? Where do you start looking? Toy shops have a huge variety of kids toys but parents just don’t have the time to sort through it all.

Maybe, amongst the vast labyrinth of games, figurines, books and art stationary, there’s a toy to help you find the ideal kids playing toys? But let’s assume that this contraption doesn’t exist. Deciding the toys that are suitable for your children takes careful consideration. Firstly, it’s about knowing your child (their interests and capabilities). It’s also about recalling a few very important factors that will help you along the way.

Age

Baby playing with colourful cups

One of the most important factors to consider is whether the toy is suitable for the age of the child you are buying for. This boils down to understanding the development stage that the child occupies. For example, a complex puzzle is useless to a young toddler as they will not possess the cognitive or motive skills to complete it.

1 – 3 years

At this early stage in a child’s development, toys for kids rightly focus on the senses and movement. Children are just learning about their bodies and how they can use it. So kids playing toys for children who are this young are typically bright, simple and encourage movement. Building blocks and toys that promote interaction and imagination are best at this stage.

4 – 5 years

By now, your child has learned a lot about themselves – both physically and mentally. What they need now, is to build their confidence up to want to gain more. Educational toys for kids can include toys with an emphasis on vital language and mathematics skills. The toys will offer positive reinforcement in the form of statements or pleasant sounds. This gives children a sense of completion and accomplishment that they’ll need more as they age.

6 – 7 years

Not only is your kid beginning to imagine and emulate people and things in their environment, they’re also forming their own interests and relationships. You will notice them gravitate more to specific subjects like developing a love of painting and colouring, or a fascination of nature. These interests will often coincide with the interests of the new friends they make and people they meet. The ideal toys for kids at this juncture will enhance relationships and require a more complicated use of the skills they possess. For instance, sports and board games require additional pages meaning kids learn the importance of teamwork and sharing. Whilst computer games and RC vehicle piloting improve dexterity and enhance imagination.

8 years +

Kids are now well integrated into society and, therefore, enjoy more outdoor pursuits. Now, their interests and abilities will be well-honed and they will want to push them through competition. Outdoor kids toys like ball games, bikes and skate boarding are an attractive proposition at this age. Children now pit themselves against their friends and peers, challenging them for spoils and committing more time and attention towards the toys they have.

At this stage, hobbies also shape the kinds of kids playing toys children take to. Something as simple as collecting items or writing poetry can be a stimulating task.

Engagement (Entertainment and Education)

Kid playing with toys

Fun and learning go hand in hand with toys for kids. Toy manufacturers understand the necessity around encouraging learning in children as they grow. Because of this necessity, the toy industry has made great strides in building educational kids toys that teach skills and knowledge whilst enthusing children throughout.

Entertainment

The most entertaining kids toys incite children to continue playing for hours on end. They inspire everything from strenuous physical activity and imaginative play, to happy, positive emotions. An entertaining kids toy is one that is challenging without becoming an imposition. Kids will gain developmental benefits but they will not feel like they are being instructed.

Generally, the kids playing toys with the greatest entertainment value are those that rely on creativity. Most toys for kids fit this criterion. But some – like ride on toys and craft kits – really stretch the boundaries of a child’s creative capacity.

Educational

Every time a child uses a toys, she or he is being educated to some degree. Whether it’s strengthening the senses, problem solving, improving communication skills or mobility, today’s toys for kids educate.

Some are specifically tailored to educate certain subjects or interests. Take board games like Articulate, Scrabble or Equate which help players to learn about English and mathematics respectively. Or dolls and toys that are based around doctors, law enforcement and the emergency services. When children interact with these toys, they learn many new abilities and refine old ones.

Interest

Little girl playing doctor

Do you know toys for kids, subjects or individuals your child is interested in at the moment? Pay attention to the things that children focus on and buy based on that. Children’s interests change like caprices in weather, so this can sometimes prove difficult. They may start off liking trains one minute then shift over to liking farm animals the next. If you do manage to pin one down, however, buy toys that support that enthusiasm. So someone who is absorbed by all things science may appreciate a experiment kit or an illustrative fun book about Space.

Gender

boys toys vs girls toys

For years, parents and gift-givers have trawled stores specifically looking for toys for boys or toys for girls. Toy shops have catered to this requirement by creating marketing – based on history and stereotypes – aimed at each gender.

However, times have changed and the notion of girl or boy-specific toys is an old fashioned one. Nowadays, toys for kids are universal and this is crucial in a world that is constantly breaking down binary gender tropes. Confining your child to kids playing toys that you think are only suitable for their gender can inhibit a child’s growth.

Safety

Child eating toy

The safety of children whilst they play with kids toys is paramount. Whilst toys are packed full of enjoyable features, they are also teeming with potential dangers. There are a number of aspects to consider before, and after, buying toys for kids.

Know the material

Unbelievably, there are many toys that have been designed using flammable and/or toxic materials. Be sure to check labels to find out what materials have been used to manufacture the toy. Importantly, the toy should both be flame retardant and washable. These items will be ones that children come into frequent contact with. For peace of mind, it’s worth finding out the possible dangers of the material or fabric being used.

Survey the design

Is the toy very heavy? Does it use breakable material like glass? Are there any sharp edges or detachable pieces? The design of toys is one of the chief reasons for age restrictions. Even soft toys, with loose parts, can become a suffocation hazard to a baby.

Supervise players

Supervision isn’t just about watching children play observantly – it also means providing a safe environment free of dangers. Even older kids can become a little too overexuberant whilst playing. The more control you maintain over their play, the more secure they will be.

Maintain the toys

Toys for kids can easily be broken or misplaced in hands of lively little ones. If a child should happen to stumble over one one day, they could endure serious injury. Conduct checks on all toys to ensure that they are still in safe working order. Ones that aren’t should be disposed of.

Also, teach children to pack their kids toys away after play. Encourage them to make a habit of it as it means you’ll worry less about unfortunate falls.

Price

Mum and son buying toys

Finally, how much you can - or are willing – to spend is something that should be at the forefront of thinking whilst shopping. The budget will depend on your current financial means, but it should also account for the toy user and the toy itself. What this means is it will be expensive to spend lots of money on a toy that can be broken easily for a toddler. Search for kids playing toys with a low risk of breaking or being misplaced. Should you find one at a reasonable price, go for it!