Finding age-appropriate toys for young children can be challenging. Every parent wants to find the perfect toys that are safe, stimulating, and that they won’t grow out of easily. Fortunately, there are websites who have dedicated themselves to reviewing and featuring certain toys that meet all the criteria that picky parents and fussy children are looking for. The next time you search for toys for your infant or toddler, consider the bullet points below and you will be more likely to find a great toy for your young one that will entertain and educate for the weeks and months that follow.
Infants – 6 months
• Babies are very oral be sure to look for toys that are inspected and regulated in the USA to ensure they are free from led or other harmful chemicals. Babies need toys that will encourage their hand to mouth coordination and help them develop fine motor skills. Bright, colorful rattles; teething rings; age-appropriate textured balls; toys with plastic indestructible mirrors; musical toys safe for hand-to-mouth exploration; and vinyl board books are great options for children in this age-group.
7 months – 1 year
• Older babies that become more mobile and are practicing sitting, crawling, rolling over, standing will like to explore toys that involve larger muscle groups. Exersaucers, Baby Jumpers, and toys that allow children to begin fitting things together in to slots are perfect for this age group. This age group will be entertained by puppets, stuffed toys, toys with wheels, and other toys that move, spin, and involve larger muscle groups will become increasingly desired.
1 year – 2 years
• Young toddlers at this age will generally have short attention spans and many of the toys that were entertaining for younger children will continue to entertain this age group. This is the age where you can start to introduce children to wooden puzzles, large building blocks that won’t provide a choking hazard, non-toxic craft projects such as making cookie dough sculptures or edible finger paints, musical toys that encourage dance and rhythm, as well as toys that sharpen language skills and phonics.
2 years – 3 years
• By this age, toddlers are becoming more coordinated and enjoy working with snaps, hooks, Velcro, buckles, putting puzzle pieces together, and playing matching games. They will be more focused and are less likely to put objects into their mouths when working with chalk, crayons, school glue, or watercolors. Outdoor toys should include a variety of climbing toys, swings, slides, and balls and hoops to encourage large motor skills
• Preschoolers and Kindergarteners have longer attention spans. They will be more verbally engaged at this age and it is easier to find toys that reflect their specific interest. They may gravitate to certain toys and interests over others and this is the time to locate toys that foster their individual interests and skills. Some children will start to show an interest in science, art, playing pretend, and music at this age. Social skills such as learning to take turns or how to share is another important milestone that children will be learning at this age and working with play groups is a great way to develop skills that involve more than one child at a time.
Safe toys for young children are well-made (with no sharp parts or splinters and do not pinch); painted with nontoxic, lead-free paint; shatter-proof; and easily cleaned.
Electric toys should be "UL Approved." Be sure to check the label, which should indicate that the toy has been approved by the Underwriters Laboratories. In addition, when choosing toys for children under age 3, make sure there are no small parts or pieces that could become lodged in a child’s throat and cause suffocation.
It is important to remember that typical wear and tear can result in a once safe toy becoming hazardous. Adults should check toys frequently to make sure they are in good standing.