These days, toys have more than just entertainment value, they encourage and stimulate all kinds of learning and creativity. With such an amazing selection to choose from, we take the guesswork out of your search and have pulled together a few great options and ten top toy tips.
The minute your first baby is born, you become inundated with toys of all description – soft toys, plastic toys, wooden toys, musical toys ... the list goes on! And it doesn’t stop as they get older. But toys and games are essential because they not only provide hours of fun and entertainment, but they can also serve to improve hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, teach young children about colours, shapes and textures, and encourage creativity, role-playing and problem-solving.
Encouraging your children to spend as much time as possible playing, with or without props, is hugely beneficial. It gives them a chance to learn about the world, role-play different scenarios and is a hugely creative way for them to express themselves. Babies need lots of colour and texture stimulation, and toys such as mobiles are essential for helping develop their vision and depth perception. Rattles and grasping toys encourage baby to reach and grab for things, and encourages two-handed play, while the varied fabrics and textures of toys encourage tactile exploration and stimulate the senses.
To help your toddler get the most out of their play, you need to give them plenty of time to explore and encourage them to persevere with an activity, even if it at first seems difficult for them. Now is the time to introduce simple puzzles and musical toys.
Preschoolers will begin to engage in role-playing and will enjoy using a wide selection of realistic (e.g., pots and pans) and not so realistic (e.g., leaves and sticks) props in their games. This is where toys such as prams, dolls, cars and diggers come into their own.
School aged children
School-aged children still enjoy make-believe games, but they are also capable of constructing with more complicated toys such as Lego. Now is the time for more involved board games that the whole family can play together. And don’t forget to have arts and crafts readily accessible throughout all these childhood stages. It might be a bit messy to clean up, but children really do enjoy being able to express themselves through painting pictures and gluing things together, it’s incredibly beneficial for them.
And when shopping for your children and any other friends/relatives, it’s a really good idea to have a list pre-planned, so that you don’t overbuy (by forgetting what you already have at home) and so that you can make your shopping time more efficient because you’ve already worked out what you’re looking for.
Top 10 toy tips
- Store some things away for a rainy day
- Have a special cupboard for sports equipment
- Separate toys for the older kids from the younger kids’ toys
- Rotate the toys and games so the same ones aren’t always available
- Don’t tidy everything up so that the toys get forgotten about
- Have some craft activities (drawing, crayons, playdough, etc) accessible at all times
- Make sure you have plenty of books within reach
- Keep board games and puzzles together in a cupboard
- Have some musical instruments for the kids to play with
- Don’t let the kids get out too many toys at once