Toys play a large part in the early years of a child’s development. It is through them that your little tot learns about the world he or she lives in, builds motor skills, uses his or her imagination, and discovers how to relate to others. Thus, what toys should a toddler have is a serious question worth pondering. After all, a child spends most of his or her waking time playing and can derive so many lessons from the activity.
What Toys Should a Toddler Have?
Basically, the toys that you should acquire for your toddler are:
Educational. Toys like puzzles, shape-sorters, flash cards, and crayons are great ways for your kids about to enter preschool. It provides an avenue for them to develop logical thinking skills, vocabulary, and memory. Plus, it is a great way to prime them for pre-school work.
Good for role-playing. Toy or unbreakable dinnerware, doctor play kits, stuffed toys, and dress-up clothes are sure to spark your child’s imagination. They help them integrate what they see in real life into their little make-believe world.
As with all stories, they face conflicts or problems that they also try to solve. Thus, they are able to learn logical sequencing and problem-solving skills. You can also use real or miniature stuff for this kind of play.
Sweat-inducing. Balls, tricycles, and bowling sets are wonderful ways to develop your kids’ hand-eye coordination skills and mastery of their body movements. Most importantly, this helps them stay active and expend extra energy.
Versatile. Building blocks, modelling clay, and sandbox toys are some of the playthings in this department. These toys are versatile in the sense that they allow your little one to use them to build or form different objects. Then, they can take them down and rebuild again.
One of the best kinds of toys is those that allow active participation for kids. That is they get entertained as they work with them. They are not passively watching or letting the toy do the entertaining.
Multi-age. Simple board games like snakes and ladders can be enjoyed by kids of all ages. Since they often require turn-taking, they are a great way to introduce to your little one the importance of following rules. And because there is a winner to every board game, it teaches him or her the value of sportsmanship.
Board games though are best played with adult supervision since they come with little pieces that can pose as choking hazards to the curious wee ones.
Safe. Above all else, the toys that you allow your toddler to play with must be safe. They must pass toy safety standards set by the respective regulating organization of your country. Some of these organizations are Consumer Product Safety Commission (US), Canada Consumer Product Safety Act (CA), British Toy and Hobby Association (UK), and International Standardization Organization (International).
In general, toys must be non-toxic and washable since children are inclined to put things or their fingers to or in their mouth.
Tips on Choosing Safe Toddler Toys
In 2015, there were more than 250,000 recorded toy-related injuries in the United States. And out of the more than 250,000 injuries, a third of those involved kids five years old and below. Thus, safety should be the main criterion in determining what toys should your toddler have. By that we mean toys that are:
Age-Appropriate. Toy boxes or packaging often come with age recommendations to guide you in selecting an appropriate toy for your youngster. But you also need to weigh in on the readiness of your kid for certain types of toys. If your child, for example, is not yet past the stage of putting things in his or her mouth, you’d want to avoid playthings that are choking-hazards however appropriate they may be for his or her age.
Big. Speaking of choking hazards, toys with diameters bigger than 1¼ inches and lengths more than 2¼ inches are safe for toddlers. To check if your child’s toy is a choking hazard or not, perform a toilet paper roll test. If the plaything passes through the tube, it means it is small enough to be ingested and block your child’s windpipe.
Small or loose parts of bigger toys such as buttons, magnets, batteries, and beads also pose danger to your little one.
Well-made. Aside from making sure that small parts are fastened securely, you also need to ascertain that toys don’t have peeling paint, sharp edges, rusted parts, or leaking batteries. You also would want to perform a quality check on your tot’s toys from time to time. Secure loose parts and dispose of toys that have become unsafe.
Non-toxic. Some toys and children’s jewelry items have been discovered to contain high levels of cadmium, lead, phthalates, flame retardants, and other harmful substances that can cause physical, intellectual, and behavioral deficits in children. This can be found in paints, batteries, stuffing, and the material the toy itself is made of—especially plastic toys.
The safer option is playthings made from eco-friendly materials such as wood, organic cotton, and rubber.
Light. Realistically speaking, when your child is at play, you can’t be with him or her 24/7. Thus, it is best to also eliminate heavy toys that can fall on him or her and that might cause injuries or asphyxiation. Stick with ones that are light enough for a toddler to push away or crawl out of safely.
Short-stringed. Aside from avoiding toys that are choking hazards, you also need to look out for toys that can cause accidental strangulation. Corded toys should not have strings longer than 12 inches, which can wrap around a child’s neck.
One Last Reminder for Parents
While it is great that you as a parent are asking yourself what toys should a toddler have, it is important to understand as well that when your kids go out of the house you have little control of the kinds of playthings made available to them. Thus, more than making the right choice of toys for your kids, it is vital that you explain to them that toys are not meant to be chewed on or swallowed.