As therapists we often get asked our recommendations for toys whether for a birthday or holiday occasion. At a workshop we attended by Cari Ebert called The Power of Play she lists 10 criteria to choosing a good toy and we liked them so much we wanted to share them with you!
1. Select toys without batteries. Your child should use their imagination and creativity including making their own noises and sound effects! The more the toy does the less your child does.
2. Select toys that encourage active play instead of passive entertainment. Be thinking what your child can do, not what the toy can do.
3. Choose simple toys that can be used in a variety of ways. They will more likely grow with the child.
4. Select toys that are safe and durable.
5. Select toys that are interesting to your child, but expose them to new toys also.
6, Seek out toys made of natural material. Children need a break from cold, hard, plastic toys.
7. Choose toys that can be easily manipulated and developmentally appropriate. Your child should be successful during play time yet challenging their abilities just enough.
8. Find toys that allow your child to learn naturally through exploration and encourage problem solving. AVOID TOYS THAT FORCE FEED ACADEMICS.
9. Choose toys that spark imagination. Generic toys without movie or cartoon characters are best and encourage more open ended play.
10. Find toys that are interesting to you as well. Take the opportunity to introduce your child to a favorite toy from your past. Jacks, jump rope, hula hoops all help to foster cross-generational play.
We hope you find this useful in picking out good toys for your child that will enhance development in so many ways. Do you remember those times where your child liked the box or tissue paper more than the toy? Toys are to be enjoyed, but play is defined as the spontaneous activity of children, even if the toy is a box, or a stick or mud ora _______(you fill in the blank)! Above all please remember:
THE WORLD'S BEST TOYS DON'T HAVE BATTERIES, THEY HAVE A HEARTBEAT!!