Choosing toys for children might seem simple, but there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. It’s important to think about durability, pricing, safety, educational value, and, of course, fun! Choose plush toys and rattles for babies and musical instruments, stacking toys, and outdoor fun for toddlers. For preschool-aged children, select dress up clothes, blocks, crayons, and books. Older children will enjoy kites, bicycles, puzzles, and board games.
EditPicking Toys for Babies and Toddlers
- Choose stimulating objects for babies up to 1 year old. Look for toys that will engage developing senses, such as toys with bright colors, simple patterns, different textures, and squeaking or rattling noises. Plush toys with embroidered eyes, large stacking rings, rattles, and toys which allow babies to press buttons or sort shapes are all popular options.
- Select tactile toys for children between 1 and 2 years old. At this age, children are learning to explore their world. Choose brightly illustrated books made of pasteboard or cloth, bathtub toys, unbreakable mirrors, or anything that makes noise.
- Choose toys that will allow babies to mimic the activities they see around them. Dolls, pretend kitchens, workbenches, and toy phones and tablets are always a hit!
- Look for musical instruments. Babies love to make noise, and playing instruments helps children learn cause and effect as well as develops their love of music. You can find simple musical instruments like drums, kazoos, xylophones, and keyboards at any toy store. Get down on the floor and show them how it works, and they’ll be making beautiful music before you know it.
- Try interactive indoor toys for children that are 2 to 3 years of age. Allow kids to get hands-on and stimulate their imagination with toys like play dough, large crayons, a pegboard with big pieces, brightly colored books with music, or a dollhouse. These are especially great options for a rainy day.
- Buy dress up clothes. Toddlers love to play pretend. Look for clothes which will allow them to dress up as their favorite superhero, princess, or TV character. You can also think of different professions to help you come up with outfits, including police officers, astronauts, chefs, or nurses.
- Look for outdoor toys for children ages 2-3. It’s never too early to encourage an active lifestyle. Sandbox toys, sidewalk chalk, sturdy cars and wagons, balls, bubbles, and sprinkler toys are all fun options.
EditSelecting Toys for Preschool-Aged Children
- Pick toys which encourage artistic expression. Allow children to get creative with building blocks and interlocking plastic blocks, play dough, blunt scissors, large non-toxic markers and crayons, finger paints, and sewing cards.
- Choose toys which connect children to the world around them. Look for toys which represent character your children are familiar with, like an action figure with their favorite superhero or a plush toy from their favorite cartoon.
- Look for skill-building toys for 4 to 5 year-old children. Kids this age enjoy playing with modeling clay, battery-operated toys, stencils, simple children’s musical instruments, books, and 9-24 piece jigsaw puzzles.
- Choose toys that can be shared with friends. Social development is very important between the ages of 3 and 5, so look for card and board games, puppets, construction toys, and other toys that kids can play with together. Encourage children to have playdates and to share their toys. 
EditSelecting Toys for Grade School-Aged Children
- Pick toys that promote activity in kids ages five and up. Choose roller skates, children’s cameras, sleds, kites, painting and drawing utensils, sewing materials, and uncomplicated tool sets. A bicycle is another great way to get kids outside and playing – depending on the size of the child, the wheels should be .
- Buy toys which emphasize interaction in older children. Interactive games like jigsaw puzzles, board games, and dominoes allow bigger kids to play together.
- Choose hobby-helping toys for children between 8 and 12 years old. Select toys that coincide with a child’s interests, such as arts and crafts materials, construction sets, electrical trains, models they can build themselves, musical instruments, or sports equipment. 
- Introduce kids to technology. As technology takes on a more important role in the future, children are exposed to digital media earlier and earlier. Look for educational video games, durable tablets, or mp3 players that you can easily control. 
- To protect your children and keep them from spending too much time on their new device, set rules (and stick to them!) about screen time, learn how to configure the parental controls, and monitor your child’s online activity daily.
EditChoosing Safe Toys
- Watch choking hazards. Babies like to put things in their mouths, so stay away from toys with detachable small parts and glass or button eyes, which can come loose and become lodged in the throat.
- Avoid sharp edges. Children are apt to run with their toys, and anything sharp can cause deep lacerations if they take a tumble.
- Don’t give children heavy toys. Children often overestimate their ability to pick up heavy or large objects. Dropping something heavy on themselves can cause serious injury, including broken bones.
- Stay away from toys with small magnets. Even strong magnets can be pulled apart and swallowed. This can pose a choking hazard and can even lead to digestive tract injuries leading to surgery.
- Skip the explosives. Children should not be given anything which might ignite, including fireworks or chemistry sets. Even under supervision, these can create a dangerous situation which could get out of hand quickly.
- Don’t buy weapons for children. Even if they seem harmless, children can be seriously injured by BB guns, air rifles, darts, arrows, boomerangs, and paintball guns.
- Check for lead paint and other toxic materials. Regulations today restrict the use of these dangerous materials in children’s toys, but this hasn’t always been the case, so it’s especially important to research vintage toys before you give them to children.
- Buy protective gear. If you give your child a tricycle or bicycle, remember to buy protective gear, such as helmets and knee and elbow pads.
- Give the toys to your children enthusiastically. Sit down with your child so you can play with the new toy together. This will teach your child that you are interested in their world.
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