How do you pick the best age appropriate toys for your child?
There are so many toys for kids available today that it can be difficult to know which age appropriate toys to buy for your child. After all, your child might be developing faster than most others, so a toy that is advertised as suitable for a 3 year old might be too ‘babyish’ for your child.
Whilst it is important to consider your child’s developmental stage in life, one of the factors you also need to consider is that it is good to have a selection of different types of toys for your child. For example, toys that are fun, those that help to fine tune their dexterity, toys that are educational and also those help challenge their development. A range of toys like this will give them lots of different choices and help your kids to have a healthy mix of fun and learning in their lives.
So let’s take a look at the abilities and interests of children by their different ages, so you can make an informed decision when buying toys for your children.
Age appropriate toys from birth to 1 year
At this age your baby is growing rapidly and will learn to grasp and hold toys, crawl and move around on their own and explore their new world. So to match their developmental milestones at this age, toys need to help stimulate their sense of sight, hearing and touch.
They like bright colors, moving objects, musical notes and noises, as well as toys that feel nice to their touch. At first, your baby won’t be able to move around on their own or hold anything, so brightly colored mobiles that play a musical tune are perfect, as are rattles, mobile displays and anything that provides color and music.
Once your baby is starting to grasp and hold items, it is important to remember that you want to avoid anything with bits and bobs that can come lose. This is because at this age, babies put just about everything in their mouths, so teething rings are always a good option, but nothing that can come loose, as we don’t want them to swallow anything.
Look for the following elements in toys for this age:
- Bright primary colors.
- High contrasting colors.
- Clear lines.
- Simple designs.
- Non-toxic materials.
- No loose parts.
- No sharp edges.
The following toys are age appropriate for birth to 1 year of age:
- Large plastic blocks or key rings.
- Soft textured dolls or teddy bears (low pile).
- Activity gyms and walkers.
- Musical toys they can dance to or bang.
- Big block puzzles, and nested or stacking toys.
- Toys that they can push along the floor.
- Toys that help them stand.
As children approach the age of 1 year, they do like toys that they can push along the floor and those that help to support them as they learn to stand and walk. It might be a little early for these, but some infants start to pull themselves up earlier than others.
Age appropriate toys for 1 to 2 years old
At this age your child is busily exploring their world and needs toys that help them to walk, climb and ride with gusto.
To match their physical and mental development at 1 to 2 years of age, they like toys that they can move around and manipulate, and ones that they take apart and put back together again (hopefully!).
Elements to look for at this age include:
- Bright primary colors.
- Lightweight toys that can be easily carried.
- Toys that can move or make sounds.
Infants and toddlers like squishy toys, soft toys, bright and colorful toys and ones that make noises, hop or roll along the floor. So consider the following toys for your 1 to 2 year old child:
- Balls (minimum 2 inches in diameter).
- Nesting and stacking toys.
- Pop-up toys.
- Activity centers.
- Ride on toys.
- Jigsaws with large pieces and knobs.
- Musical toys.
- Push-pull toys.
- Play kitchen equipment.
- Large crayons and coloring books.
- Finger paints.
- Pop-up books.
- Construction toys.
- Manipulative toys.
Age appropriate toys for 2 to 3 years old
Two and three year old are very active and love playing chase, hide and seek and pretending to be adults. Their hands are becoming more coordinated now, so they still love to draw and take things apart.
Toddlers love to build things, solve problems, dance and create artistic masterpieces! So look for toys that challenge your child in a good way and gives them plenty of activities as well.
Elements to look for in toys for this age group include:
- Toys that they can move themselves.
- Toys with working or moving parts.
- Light weight, so they can carry them around.
- Bright, primary colors.
As with younger kids, you want toys for this age group to be unbreakable, so that they can withstand some serious abuse from toddlers and there are no small pieces that can come loose and they can swallow.
- Puzzles with large pieces.
- Blocks that snap together and make different shapes.
- Toys they can take apart and put back together.
- Buttons they can press, knobs they can turn and lids that open and close.
- Picture books, pop-up books, crayons and coloring books.
- Balls to kick around, ride on toys, tunnels to crawl through.
- Toy tools that they can hammer.
- Gym equipment, swings, slides.
Age appropriate toys 3 to 6 years old
Children of this age like to run, jump, hop and skip. They like physical activity and they love acrobatics, outdoor equipment and anything that they can ride on and go places.
Their finger control and dexterity continues to improve, so now they can pick up small objects, cut with scissors, hold a pencil or crayon and string beads. They have a longer attention span now, so they like toys that hold their attention for extended periods.to construct things
They still like primary colors and noisy toys, but are also starting to understand numbers and letters. Whilst they like realistic toys, they also love make believe and dressing up as their favorite super hero.
Toys in this age group should have the following elements:
- Different pieces they can take apart.
- Numbers and letters.
- Counting and spelling.
- Toys that help their balance, coordination and strength.
- Games with strategies and planning.
- Nature, environment and animals.
- Realistic toys.
- Toys that involve cooperation not competition.
Toys that you can investigate for this age group include:
- Doll houses and garages.
- Battery operate remote controlled toys.
- Train sets.
- Electronic robots and dinosaurs.
- Realistic ride on cars.
- Hand and finger puppets.
- Simple board games.
- Crayons, markers and coloring books.
- Music, DVDs, kids iPads and children’s interactive computer games.
Age appropriate toys for 6 to 9 years old
At this age your children begin to enjoy games of strategy and they love to learn new things about their world. They are now capable of using many child versions of adult sporting equipment, and whilst they still like building and construction kits, they prefer them to have greater intricacy and realism than when they were a few years younger.
Toys that can be appropriate for this age group include:
- Sports equipment toys (roller blades, skates, basketballs).
- Scooters, electrical powered vehicles.
- Spelling and math games.
- Puppet theaters.
- Painting and craft sets.
- Strategic board and card games.
- Computer games.
- Construction kits.
- Clay and modeling crafts.
- Science kits.
- Magic kits.
- Jump ropes.
- Board games.
- Dinosaur models.
- Simple telescopes.
Age appropriate toys for 9 to 12 years old
Older children start showing more interest in sports and hobbies and are able to carry on many activities on their own. Their critical independent thinking skills are maturing and they quite often like to read biographies and learn more about our environment, people and animals.
Their dexterity is just about as good as an adults as well, so they like complex and intricate puzzles and games that take tactics and skill. Children in this age group like creating and constructing models and interactive toys, they like play-acting, drama and games with rules.
Toys that can be appropriate for this age group include:
- Non fiction, fiction and fantasy books.
- Card games.
- Chemistry or astronomy kits.
- Computers and video games.
- Anything to do with their hobby.
- Model building toys.
- Anything to do with their favorite sport.
- Bikes, skateboards and go-karts.
- Toys with motorized parts.
- Jigsaw puzzles with up to 2000 pieces.
- Arts and crafts.
- Mechanical models.
- science models.
- Needlepoint kits.
- Jewelry making kits.
- Remote control toys.
- Fashion dolls.
- Musical instruments.
- Chess, math games, detection games.
- Microscopes, telescopes, binoculars.
Age appropriate toys for 12+ years old
Kids and teenagers love toys that are trendy, cool and grown up. They like active sports, either solitary or competitive, as well as anything to do with computers, learning and of course, fashion and clothes.
At this age, kids tend to love music and have their favorite singers and pop stars, as well as their favorite hobbies and sports. From a developmental point of view, adolescents are more aware of what others think about them, they can be quite self conscious and are far more aware of what is happening in the world.
Toys and gifts that can be appropriate for this age group include:
- Fashionable and trendy clothes.
- Jewelry, watches and makeup.
- Smartphones, iPods, iPads and computers.
- Video games, DVDs and CDs.
- Skateboards, roller blades and hover boards.
- Portable chargers.
- Selfie stick.
- Hair accessories.
- Skincare products.
- Gift cards.
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