This morning a flashing news caught my eye which read ‘ A well known television actor’s 2 year old child died in a freak accident where she swallowed a plastic toy and choked herself.” The toy apparently blocked her wind pipe and killed her. Parents and family members take utmost care of children with extreme vigilance and safety, yet things slip out sometimes and such unfortunate incidents happen. Lets try to be more alert and introduce our children to the right kind of toys. By right kind of toys I mean age appropriate toys which adhere to safety and ability guidelines. When children are surrounded by age appropriate toys, the likeliness of an incident like this can be prevented.
Toy market is full of attractive options. Picking the right kind of toys for your children is very important. A guide to age appropriate toys will definitely come handy.
Remember these points before choosing a toy for your child:
- Toys play an essential role in child development
- Attention spans in children increase with age
- Always look for the age range mentioned on toy
- Kids learn a lot from the kind of toys they play with
- Some toys are for educational purpose only
- Some toys only help in recreation
- Never go for toys that are beyond the age range of your child
While these pointers help in choosing age appropriate toys, let us look at some age appropriate toys that can help in a child’s holistic development based on stages of development. By means of holistic development I mean:
- Physical Development (Fine motor skills and Gross Motor Skills)
- Social & Emotional Development
- Mental or Cognitive Development
- Problem Solving Skills
At this age, babies spend most of their time sleeping. Their vision is not 100% clear and are visually exploring the world trying to recognize faces.Towards the end of this stage, babies are able to hold their neck and head and are trying to hold things that they see.
Play Gyms are mats which give your baby a free space to move their hands and kicks. These playmats come with mobiles that the child tries to grasp and play with. Play Gyms help babies develop their gross motor skills by means of kicks. It develops their fine motor skills when they try to grab those hanging mobiles (at a later stage). Some play gyms come with music and music makes them happy. A play gym is also an excellent toy to enhance hand and eye coordination.
Rattles help in child’s sensory skills. Make sure to pick rattles that do not have small beads as they could be a threat to safety. At a later stage baby tries to hold the rattle and explore sounds. Rattles can help in distracting babies if they are cranky or restless.
Stuffed Animals or Soft Toys
Babies learn the sense of touch with soft toys. It helps develop their sensory skills. As they grow in this stage, they are able to co-relate the toy with names that adults use like animal names. Bath toys also create excitement in babies. These toys help improve their exploratory skills. 8-9 month old babies can sit and toys if thrown at a distance spikes a curiosity to reach the toy which in turn helps in their gross motor skills encouraging the need to crawl.
Infants (6-12 months)
At this age they are able to grab and hold things. By the end of this stage, they are able to sit, crawl or even start walking. Their large and small muscles are developing and they are curious to explore. They have better problem solving skills and are completely in exploratory mode.
Building Blocks & Shape Sorter
Wooden blocks or soft blocks help them understand the concept of balance. These toys help develop fine motor skills and if played with peers help develop social skills. Shape sorters help children with problem solving skills. Both of these toys help children in hand and eye coordination and cognitive development.
Soft Balls, Push & Pull Toys
Soft Balls help babies develop their large motor skills when they try to kick. Push and Pull toys improve their small muscles and hence develop their fine motor skills. You can also introduce your child to some soft hurdles to climb over. This is a fun way to enhance physical development.
Babies (12-18 months)
Most of the children in this age range are walking and are into physical activities. They are extremely curious and open to absorbing from their surroundings.
This is an excellent sensory play. Play dough triggers a child’s imagination and gets the creativity out. It also develops fine motor skills and helps in cognitive development.
Puzzles, Pegboard, Dolls and Life Skills Toys
Puzzles and pegboards help in developing problem solving skills and cognitive skills while enhancing fine motor skills. Dolls and Life skills toys like baby carriages, automobiles help them connect to real life skills and get their imagination in action.
Toddler (2-3 years)
By now children are more active and aware of their surroundings. They are more verbal and expressive.
While certain self learning electronic toys can be introduced from 18 months onwards, toys like remote operated automobiles should be introduced only after 2 years. Children have better dexterity to operate remotes. These toys help children develop this small muscles and help in hand and eye coordination.
Pretend Play Toys
Children in this age range are into parallel play where they play in a group as individuals or with peers. Children love to pretend play at this age where they like to dress up like a family member or any other character and enact their actions. Kitchen set, baby strollers, character costumes etc are some examples of such toys. Pretend play helps in developing social and emotional skills while enhancing their imaginations.
Preschoolers (3+ years)
By this age children are ready to go to school. Their curiosity has no limits and this is the period when their absorption capacity is maximum.
Cycles & Other Outdoor Toys
Bicycles or Tricycles, Scooters, Bat Ball, Racket ball and other such outdoor games are the best buys at this age. It gives them immense exposure to outdoor plays and helps immensely in developing their social emotional and physical skills. These outdoor games also instill a sense of competition in children.
Chess & Board Games
Indoor games like Chess, snakes and ladders and other board games are an excellent way to engage your children while keeping them away from screens. These games increase their focus and attention span. They help in developing problem solving skills and enhance cognitive and social development.
Apart from the toys listed above, there are many other toys that help in an overall development of a child from birth through childhood. Parents need to ensure the association of safety with every toy that they introduce the child to. Hence it is important to buy age appropriate toys for children and right kind of baby toys for babies that can also enhance children learning and help build their personality in a positive way.
Also read: 8 Must-Play Fun Party Games For Kids