Children love toys. Anyone who has been with a kid in a toy store knows this is true: once they step into one, they’ll fill up their hands with items, feeling they can’t live without any of them anymore. Tell them to choose one or two, and the struggle gets real.
But why are toys so important? As parents, we know that toys are essential for children’s development. The best toys for kids provide an opportunity to learn, engage a child’s senses and spark their imagination. Some even help children socialise as they encourage them to interact with others.
But how can you choose age-appropriate toys that will entertain your kids and help them understand the world? We’ve made this age-wise guide to help you learn how kids play and buy kids toys online to help them develop social and emotional skills and stimulate their brains in the best way possible.
Choosing Toys for Babies
How Babies Play
Babies are eager to get to know the world around them, and every new shape, colour, texture, taste and sound is a learning experience for them. They explore the fascinating world around them using their five senses, questioning things like: Does this item feel hard or soft? Is it sticky? What will it do if I drop it? And how about putting it in my mouth? A baby’s play is all about tasting or mouthing a toy, shaking, banging and dropping it.
As your baby develops new motor skills, their play becomes more complex. Although it’s beneficial to encourage baby to play by herself, don’t forget that you as parents are her favourite people and therefore playmats. Interacting with your baby will help her learn the language, social relations and cause-and-effect.
Baby Toys Ideas
Nursery Mobiles and Baby Gyms
Flying objects around a baby’s head while lying in a crib or on the floor on a mat help develop attention span. When buying a baby gym, choose ones that contain toys that are interesting for babies or those with customisable designs. Some of the babies’ favourites are rattles and toys that make music. Contrasting colours excite babies and help stimulate their vision.
Mirrors are another choice for baby gym hanging objects. At the start, your baby will be fascinated with the face and expressions she sees in the mirror. Over time, she’ll realise it’s a reflection of herself. When that happens, the baby becomes more aware, leading to more self-discovery, which is crucial for their development.
Another classic toy, the ring stack features a cone fitting different-sized coloured rings. In the beginning, babies enjoy holding and mouthing the rings. As kids grow, they start practising fine motor skills by fitting the rings onto the cone. Later, they try putting the rings anywhere possible to figure out size and fit. When you count them while stacking the rings, there’s also the possibility to learn about colours and numbers.
These support balance and the growth of the large muscles as your child transitions from couch surfing to walking. Babies develop the muscles needed to become runners and climbers as they push and pull more. Kids can use them later, during the toddler years, to help control their escalating speed.
Choosing Toys for Toddlers
How Toddlers Play
As babies become toddlers, they become aware of how objects function. Stacking blocks and pretending to talk on the phone are some of their play activities. Pretend play starts around this time as a concept. Your little one might pretend to tuck a baby doll into bed at night after reading her a story and kissing her goodnight. Or, they can make noises while pushing a toy train or car.
This kind of play is a sign that your kid understands that each item serves a purpose. Choosing bright and colourful toys can help your toddler differentiate colours and shapes. By the 2-year mark, almost every toddler can kick a ball, draw with a crayon, and build a tower of four and more blocks. By age 3, they can pedal a tricycle or kick a scooter.
Toddler Toys Ideas
When looking to buy kids toys online you’ll come across a huge variety of balls. Bounced, rolled, caught, or thrown, balls aid development of gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Puzzles, nesting cups, blocks and buckets with holes are all different shaped options that challenge hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills.
These toys help children learn how the world works by imitating your actions as well as those of other influential adults. Play kitchens, doctor’s kits, and tea sets, combined with dolls and plush toys, are favourite choices (think tea party with teddy bears). They aid social and emotional development by teaching tots how to express emotions while caring for something they love.
Choosing Toys for Preschoolers
How They Play
If babies explore objects with the five senses and toddlers start figuring out how they work, preschoolers use toys and other objects for their intended purpose. Imagine the world of possibilities for them: a blanket thrown over a coffee table becomes a secret clubhouse; modelling clay becomes a pizza that you have to “taste.”
The world becomes a magical limitless place for preschoolers, with them being the masters and creators of it all. At this age, they start to believe they have magical powers that can battle monsters and win or turn into any creature they want. Preschoolers want to pull you into their fantasy and expect you to play along. Also, there come imaginary friends to help them come over their fears and anxiety.
While such fantasy play is crucial for healthy development, the games also become more physical. Why just walk when they can hop, jump, or skip?
Preschooler Toys Ideas
Arts and Crafts
As fine motor skills advance, tasks like holding a crayon, creating family portraits, and cutting and pasting with safety scissors help to improve coordination, inspire creativity, and boost self-esteem.
Blocks and Construction Sets
Building a tower helps with hand-eye coordination and problem-solving abilities (and figuring out how to keep it from falling over). Preschoolers use simple construction toys to make all sorts of structures, including houses, cars, and animals.
Jigsaw puzzles improve hand-eye coordination and dexterity and teach spatial relationships (how things relate to one another) and logical reasoning.