Buying toys and games for children
Now that Christmas is fast approaching your children are probably all too eager to hand you their Christmas wish list. Depending on how old they are, this most likely consists of quite a few toys.
Regardless of how naughty or nice they were this year, make sure your purchases are catered to their wants and needs. If you have no idea where to start, read the following guidelines so you can make an informed decision. Toy shopping can be fun, but it can also be a bit tricky.
What is a Toy for?
Toys are a source of entertainment, but they also serve as skill builders. Toys help build a child’s emotional, social and intellectual skills. Make sure your children’s toys will enhance these skills, not diminish them.
Before choosing a toy, you must ask yourself the question, “Is this toy age appropriate?” Not only is this an issue of safety but it’s an issue because most toys are geared to generate certain skill sets.
Newborns – 12 months
We are all born with a natural curiosity. Babies between the ages of a newborn to 12 months are completely new to this world and are fascinated by everything. They’re constantly exploring the world through their senses and even become fascinated with their hands. They use all their senses to understand the world.
Newborns have the tendency to put everything they see in their mouths. Although this is innocent, it is potentially dangerous to your baby’s safety. Toys like rattles, soft toys, and large plastic play keys are great. Anything that is in high contrast of colour or jingles and makes noise will keep your baby safe and preoccupied. You also want to make an effort to expose your baby to toys that enable them to experience the 5 senses: sight, sound, touch, hearing and smell.
If you’re looking for something to keep them preoccupied while in a cot, opt for a Baby Mobile. Baby Mobiles are a perfect choice because they are a visual stimulant and help develop a baby’s motor skills. Mobiles that play soft and soothing musicare also available. This will help your baby develop their hearing skills. For extra security place mobiles above the foot of the bed in the rare case it does fall, your baby is still safe.
While toys for newborns should help them develop their motor skills, toys should hold a different purpose when your children are able to walk and stand on their own. When it comes to toddlers, it’s in their best interest to choose toys that develop their physical skills. Associating physical activity and exercise with happiness will prove to be beneficial for them. This will be especially evident in adulthood.
Toys like bouncy balls, large piece jigsaw puzzles, and ride on toy cars will encourage your children to stay active. Play houses, life size toys, baby dolls, building blocks and kitchen sets are toys that enable them to imitate their parents and help develop responsibility.
3-5 years Old
Toys for younger children are generally targeted to enhancing creativity. If you ask a classroom of children how many of them like drawing or painting, most of them will raise their hand. Encourage a child’s natural creativity with paints, sketchbooks, clay, coloured pencils, crayons, colouring books, etc.
The great thing about arts and crafts is that it keeps their hands busy; it’s relaxing, therapeutic and instills a sense of accomplishment and pride through the end result.
By the time your children are in primary school it’s a good idea to buy them a board game for Christmas. Primary school kids generally enjoy board games because they’re a fun activity that they can enjoy with other people. Board games are a great present because they teach children to enjoy quality family time, to take turns and how to work well with others. Classic board games such as Guess Who and Snakes and Ladders are perfect because they’re fun and the rules are very simple.
Educational games such as children’s tablets, kid’s laptops and interactive books are a great way of combining learning and playing. Products such as the LeapReader allow children to learn how to read and write by saying words out loud and writing with stroke-by-stroke guidance.
Children with Special Needs
When approaching the subject of what toys to buy for your children who have special needs, it’s important to ask different questions. The main focus of the toy’s use should be enjoyment, not frustration. It’s important to ask yourself, “Is this toy easy to use?” Try as much as you can to avoid frustration, but the toy should have some level of challenge or difficulty. Games with levels of difficulty help build self-confidence and lessen the chance of them getting bored with the game.
Cause and effect toys are great especially if your child has speech impairment. Games that ask questions and require a response are extremely helpful. They’re helpful because they’re a non- threatening way to develop their skills and provide a sense of accomplishment.
5 Top Tips from Twenga
1. If you’re not sure if you’re toy is safe or appropriate for your child, toys that are Oppenheim Toy Portfolio approved are highly recommended.
2. Most toy packaging has either an appropriate age range displayed or EC for ‘early childhood’ or E for ‘everyone’. Make sure that toys match the age of the child you are buying for.
3. If you are buying paints, make sure that they are non-toxic. You don’t want your child digesting something that could potentially harm them.
4. Ask yourself if the toy requires assembly every time you use it. You may want to think again if you need to put 80 pieces together day after day.
5. How much space is there? If the child lives in a small apartment, it may not be ideal to buy big toys that are difficult to tidy away.
New toys on the market
Christmas 2013 sees plenty of new toys on the market. Here are just a few of them:
Teksta Robotic Puppy
Available in blue or pink, this robotic puppy responds to light and sounds. It can also do over 100 different gestures (including a backflip!).
The Furby is back with 5 different designs and the possibility to connect to a Smartphone or iPad apps. As well as dancing to music and remembering its own name, the Furby’s personality will change depending on how you treat it.
Flutterby Flying Flower Fairy
After being launched into the air, you can use your hand to guide this fairy higher and higher with its integrated sensor. Word of warning: you will need a total of 6 AA batteries!
Similar to the traditional version, except you will be buying big name brands rather than streets, houses and train stations. Another advantage is that the game has been designed to last an average of 30 minutes – much less than the traditional version!
Nerf N-Strike Elite Rapidstrike
Be prepared for attack with this toy gun and its 18 flying darts. It is much lighter than its previous models; however this one still requires batteries to work.
Lego City Coast Guard Patrol
All Christmases involve Lego and this one will be no exception. The latest toy in the Lego range is a set including a patrol boat, a submarine and a helicopter.
This tablet comes in pink or green and has integrated, child-friendly Wi-Fi. As well as its apps to encourage learning through play, there is also an 8GB integrated memory and 2 on-board cameras to play with!
V-Tech Innotab 3S
Connect to V-Tech’s learning lodge to download TV shows, music and e-books with this tablet. There is also a 2 megapixel on-board camera, which can twist to face either the front or the back.
Doc McStuffins Doctor’s Bag Playset
Get a career in medicine started early with this doctor-themed play set. It comes complete with a plastic syringe, thermometer, blood pressure cuff and a light-up stethoscope (plus much more!).
If you’re not keen on real pets, this might be the toy for you. Collect the 4 fish and the 4 sharks, which swim around and bob from the top of the bowl to the bottom when activated by water.