Very young children are at the brink of discovery in their lives. This means awakening and training all of their senses: touch, sight, hearing and smell. Toys play an instrumental part in developing their manipulative and hand-eye coordination skills. Toys are the first tools a child will encounter. Parents should not only be aware that toys should be of high quality but they should be safe and not contain any lead paint, splinters, are not easily swallowed and allow for easy cleaning. Parents should frequently check toys for wear and parts separation, making sure no small pieces can be ingested. The American Consumer Product Safety Commission website has information on toys that have been recalled for hazardous conditions.
One-year-old children just out of infancy are on the move. If they're not walking they are crawling to investigate the home. This is also the time when they express their first words and interact with other children that might be older. Large board books that open up and display brightly colored pictures of animals and landscapes will catch their eyes. It's an added plus if the board book has recordings of a simple storyline, rhymes or songs since this will marry the two senses of sight and sound together. Large colorful blocks that can be stacked and arranged will attract this age-group since these children are forever assembling and dismantling objects. Washable markers and slates will give them a chance to render their first line drawings and representations. Since very young children identify with the human face and form, playing with dolls and puppets will allow them to act out small scenes and experiment with clothing and pose body parts.
Stuffed animals can look very realistic and mirror the characters children see on cartoons. Providing them with a cartoon likeness is like giving them a watching budding during the program. Large toys with wheels, whether cars, trucks or pull wagons encourage movement and travel which provides exercise for the whole body. Any toy that has dials, knobs, switches, drawers or levers will invigorate the curiosity and promote a heightened level of intuitive thinking.
Toddlers are up and about and testing their universe by running, jumping, climbing, hanging and testing their skills. They are also fast-learning language and becoming skilled at manipulating objects with their fingers and hands. It's a great time for them to solve mysteries, like putting large wood puzzles together, assembling pieces that snap, hook, buckle or button together in certain order, or sorting objects by size, shape and colour.
Any type of toy that requires order or some type of sequence for building is great for the toddler stage. Small, simple construction sets that make doll houses, transportation toys, kitchen and food items and miniature furniture will delight the toddler. This is a time when drawing, chalkboards and finger painting become interesting since all the creativity is left to the child, and if there is a group of artistic children present, comparisons and competitions can be held for the most original renderings. Plastic scissors, construction papers and glue will also afford another artistic medium. Picture books with simple stories and themes should be encouraged at this stage since it will be the first time that the written words are paired with the sounds.
Children in this age range have longer attention spans than the aforementioned groups. They can enjoy the same types of toys but the puzzles and sets can be more complicated and require more skill in assembly. The picture books can include longer tales and more complicated themes. This is a time when DVD and CD players can be introduced, showcasing instructional music videos, puzzles and learning games. Such devices will naturally require adult supervision.
Children of this age group will express a need for bike riding, having seen this activity in older children. Tricycles and very small two-wheeled models with trainer wheels are the best bets for this activity, along with adult assistance and supervision. Pull wagons, peddle cars and wheelbarrows are another great source for this age group. These toy vehicles help to expend energy and develop stamina and musculature. Outdoor activities like plastic bowling, jungle gym climbing and croquet will provide plenty of vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) and provide good cardiovascular exercise for the entire body.
Please be aware that the articles on this site are written by mothers who are discussing their own experiences and their own opinions. They do not, and are not meant to, represent professional advice and should be read with that point firmly in mind.
Our children’s welfare is paramount; if you are ever in the slightest doubt about any aspect of caring for a child you are urged to seek qualified, specialist advice from a professional advisor.