How Do I Choose a Developmentally Appropriate Toy for My Child?

Medically Reviewed on 6/24/2021

Most parents are worried about keeping their toddler or preschooler occupied in a way that will have a positive effect on their development. To choose a developmentally appropriate toy for your child choose open-ended toys, steer clear of electronics, stay away from educational toys and pick toys that will grow with your child and encourage them to be active.
Most parents are worried about keeping their toddler or preschooler occupied in a way that will have a positive effect on their development. To choose a developmentally appropriate toy for your child choose open-ended toys, steer clear of electronics, stay away from educational toys and pick toys that will grow with your child and encourage them to be active.

Most parents are worried about keeping their toddler or preschooler occupied in a way that will have a positive effect on their development. Thousands of parents go through the same anxiety about engaging their child in a healthy manner. Toys are one of the first options that parents seek for their children. Choosing the correct toy can boost independence, creativity and curiosity in children. While selecting a toy or game, parents should consider the effect it will have on their child’s development. Moreover, these toys should encourage exploration, experimentation and creativity. Make sure the colors or crayons you give your child are lead-free and nontoxic. A few toy pieces may present a choking hazard to young kids, so always be mindful of what your child is playing with. Parents can follow these guidelines while selecting toys for their kids.

Choose open-ended toys: Open-ended toys refer to toys that can be used in multiple ways without restraining a child’s imagination. For example, children can use blocks in different ways to

  • Build a house
  • Make a freeway
  • Create a robot

However, close-ended toys refer to toys that can be used in a limited number of ways. For example, board games are closed-ended toys because they have a specific set of rules for playing the game. Therefore, always choose toys such as blocks for your child because they have the following benefits.

  • Improve imagination
  • Develop problem-solving and logical thinking skills

Do not buy electronic toys and video games: A child may not have a role in operating electronic toys and video games. Such toys don’t allow them to use their imagination. Hence, buy simple toys that permit your child to be creative and spontaneous.

Don’t buy toys that claim to be educational: Many educational toys claim to enhance brain development in children. However, a study has reported that these claims are unsupported.

Find toys that will grow with your child: Always select toys that would be beneficial in various developmental stages. Some examples include

  • Plastic animals
  • Action figures
  • Stuffed animals and dolls
  • Blocks
  • Toddler-friendly dollhouse
  • Trains and dump trucks

Select toys that encourage your child to be active: Look out for toys that don’t keep your children idle. Some examples include

  • Balls of different shapes and sizes
  • Tricycles
  • Pull-toys
  • Wagon
  • Gardening tools to dig

What are some of the developmentally appropriate toys for each age group?

Keeping safety and protection in mind, some of the age-appropriate toys that boost your child’s developmental abilities are as follows.

Babies up to 12 months:

  • Soft cuddly items such as stuffed animals, cloth dolls or puppets (without detachable button noses and eyes)
  • Water play toys for bath time
  • Crib gyms
  • Floor activity quilts
  • Soft mats to pat
  • Plastic-coated books
  • Rattles
  • Sound-makers such as squeak toys

Toddlers up to one to two years:

  • Cloth-covered foam blocks
  • Cardboard blocks
  • Stacking toys
  • Push-pull toys
  • Pop-up toys
  • Board books
  • Two- to four-piece puzzles
  • All the toys intended for babies up to 12 months

Preschoolers up to two to five years:

  • Balls
  • Wooden blocks
  • Construction toys
  • Pretend-play toys
  • Nesting table toys
  • Wheeled toys
  • Nontoxic art and clay-like modeling materials
  • Simple board and card games
  • Up to 16-piece puzzles and train sets
  • Activity play stations such as airport, farm or zoo
  • Plus toys intended for toddlers

School-agers up to 6 to 10 years

  • Complex card and board games
  • Arts and crafts kits
  • Car or airplane model kits
  • Natural science collections
  • Hand-held electronic/computer games
  • Jump rope
  • Computer
  • CD player
  • Bike
  • Chapter books and short novels
  • Sports equipment
  • Musical instruments
  • Jigsaw puzzles

SLIDESHOW

Parenting Guide: Healthy Eating for Kids See Slideshow

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 6/24/2021
References
WebMD: "Choosing the Right Toys for the Right Age." https://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/choosing-right-toys-for-right-age#1

Mount Sinai Parenting Center: "Safe, Fun, and Developmentally Appropriate Toys: Toddlers Learn Best Through Play." https://parenting.mountsinai.org/parent-guides/developmentally-appropriate-toys-2/

Parenting Exchange: "Toy Safety and Selection: Choose Developmentally Appropriate Toys for Safer Play." https://www.easternflorida.edu/community-resources/child-development-centers/parent-resource-library/documents/toy-safety.pdf