15 Guidelines for Selecting the Perfect Developmentally Appropriate Toys




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When it comes to selecting toys, developmentally appropriate and safe playsets are the best for children. But how do you know if a toy is developmentally appropriate? What makes a toy safe and educational?

To help parents navigate through this challenge, here are 15 guidelines for selecting skill building toys. From considering age appropriateness to opting for sustainable materials and products, these tips will guide your selection process so that you feel confident in providing meaningful play experiences while avoiding any safety hazards or environmental issues associated with plastic waste.

Let’s explore what goes into making sure we select only the best when it comes to 15 guidelines for selecting developmentally appropriate toys!

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Key Takeaways on Helpful Guidelines on Choosing Developmentally Appropriate Toy Sets for Younger Children

  • Consider age appropriateness and safety standards when selecting toys for children.
  • Prioritize activities that encourage gross motor development, physical activity, social interaction, and creative play over electronic toys.
  • Select toys that are adaptable and involve the child in the selection process if possible.

1) Choose toys that are appropriate for the child’s age group and developmental stage.

When selecting toys for your child, it is important to consider age appropriateness. This includes looking at the age range of the toy, ensuring that it meets safety standards, and considering how it will help with cognitive development.

The first factor to consider when choosing a toy is its recommended age range. Toys should be appropriate for the developmental level of your child.

If they are too advanced or too simple then they may not provide any benefit or even cause harm. Look for toys labeled as “developmentally appropriate” which means they have been designed specifically with children in mind and are suitable for their current stage of development.

2) Buy toys that are safe and meet industry standards for quality and safety.

Toy safety is important when choosing a toy for your child. Safe toys meet safety standards set by organizations such as ASTM International (formerly known as American Society for Testing and Materials). These standards ensure that all materials such as lead-free paint used in the construction of the toy are safe and non-toxic, so you can rest assured knowing that your child won’t be exposed to any harmful chemicals while playing with their new toy.

3) Look for open-ended toys that promote physical, cognitive, and social-emotional development.

By providing children with toys that support physical, cognitive and logical thinking skills, parents and caregivers can help ensure that they are setting children up for success and helping them to reach their full potential.

Simple toys that promote physical development might include things like balls of different shapes, pull toys, building blocks, construction toys such as dump trucks or ride-on toys that encourage child development, movement and coordination, while puzzles, card games, shape sorters, board games, or educational toys that encourage creativity, and critical thinking.

Dolls that come with dress up clothes, puppets, or other imaginative play toys encourage empathy, cooperation, and communication.

4) Buy toys that support imaginative and pretend play.

Toys that can be used in multiple ways and allow children to explore their own ideas are great for stimulating imagination and encouraging creativity.

For example, a wooden block set is an excellent choice as it encourages creative building and imaginative play. It allows the child to use their imagination while exploring shapes, sizes and colors of the blocks.

Likewise, you can help expand your child’s imagination by giving them stuffed toys or stuffed animals that they can bring with them wherever they go. For budding chefs, you can buy play food sets, modeling clay and play kitchen that imitates real life kitchen utensils and equipment. And for aspiring artists, you can provide them with different child-friendly art supplies or musical instruments.

5) Look for toys that provide a range of challenges and opportunities for learning and exploration.

Toys that promote brain development and help kids strengthen large muscles and practice gross motor skills, fine motor skills and balance and coordination are great options during toddler years.

Look for toys such as tricycles, scooters or balls that can help your child develop gross motor skills. Balance boards, transportation toys, rocking horses and jump ropes are all excellent choices when looking for toys to promote balance and coordination. Small objects, large beads and crafting can be beneficial in developing fine motor skills and the ability to grasp objects and learn about cause and effect.

6) Consider the child’s interests and abilities when selecting the right toy.

Buying the best toys based on a child’s interests and abilities is crucial for their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical growth. Many kids learn and engage more with toys that align with their interests. For example, if our baby is into putting objects on top of each other, you can give them stack blocks, construction sets and nesting cups.

Toys that match a child’s abilities can help boost their self-esteem and confidence. Considering a child’s abilities and interests when selecting toys can promote social and emotional development. It can help develop social skills and emotional expression and understanding.

7) Avoid toys with small parts, sharp edges, or other potential hazards.

It’s crucial to avoid toys with small parts, sharp edges, or other potential hazards for the safety of children. These hazards can cause serious injuries, choking, or even death. Kids under the age of three are particularly vulnerable to these hazards as they tend to put smaller objects and almost everything in their mouths.

Parents and caregivers should carefully read the warning labels and age recommendations before purchasing toys for their kids.

8) Consider the potential drawbacks of excessive screen time and balance electronic toys with other types of play.

Limiting screen time on electronic devices for young children is crucial for their early development. Excessive screen time can lead to delayed language development, impaired social skills, and decreased physical activity, which can all have long-term negative effects.

Screen time can disrupt healthy sleep patterns, leading to problems with attention and behavior.

To promote healthy development, parents and caregivers should prioritize activities that encourage physical activity, social interaction, and creative play, and limit screen time to no more than one hour per day for children ages 2 to 5, and none for children under 2.

9) Consider the child’s cultural background and buy toys that reflect and celebrate diversity.

When selecting toys for kids, it’s crucial to consider their cultural background and choose items that reflect and celebrate diversity. Toys meant to represent different cultures and races can help children develop a sense of belonging and acceptance of others.

Toys that incorporate multiple languages, traditional clothing, and diverse family structures are just a few examples of how toys can reflect and celebrate diversity. By choosing toys that embrace cultural differences, kids can learn to respect and appreciate diversity, ultimately creating a more inclusive and accepting world.

10) Avoid toys that reinforce gender stereotypes or promote violence.

Parents should avoid toys that reinforce gender stereotypes or promote violence because they can limit a child’s development and perpetuate harmful social norms.

Children should be encouraged to develop their own unique identities and interests, free from societal pressures and harmful influences. Buying good toys that are inclusive and promote positive values such as creativity, cooperation, and empathy can help kids develop into well-rounded individuals who contribute positively to society.

11) Look for toys that can be used in multiple ways and for a long period of time.

Parents should look for toys that can be used in multiple ways and for a long period of time because they provide more value for money and support their child’s development. Toys that can be used in different ways promote your child’s creativity, problem-solving skills, and imagination, while also reducing boredom and increasing engagement during various developmental stages.

12) Consider the child’s individual needs and abilities, and choose toys that can be adapted as needed.

Selecting toys that can be adapted to a child’s needs is a great way to ensure that they receive a personalized learning experience that promotes growth and development.

Kids with varying developmental stages and interests require different types of toys to enhance their skills and encourage exploration. Choosing adaptable toys, such as building blocks or educational games, allows for customization and flexibility, promoting engagement and creativity.

13) Involve the child in the toy selection process, if possible, to ensure that the toys are engaging and interesting.

Involving children in the toy selection process can be beneficial for their optimal learning and development through play. By allowing them to choose toys they are interested in, they are more likely to engage in imaginative and creative play, which helps with problem-solving skills, language development, and socialization.

It’s important to consider age-appropriate toys that are safe and encourage exploration and experimentation. By selecting toys that stimulate multiple senses and promote cognitive and physical development, children can have fun while learning and growing.

14) Considering the potential long-term effects of the toys on the child’s development and well-being.

Carefully choosing toys that align with a child’s developmental stage and interests, parents and caregivers can promote healthy development and stimulate learning while ensuring a safe and happy childhood.

The right toys can help children learn, develop new skills, and build self-esteem, while inappropriate toys can have the opposite effect. Moreover, some toys can cause harm or injury, or contain hazardous chemicals that may have long-term health implications.

15) Be willing to try out new toys and be open to changing the toy collection as the child grows and develops.

Parents’ willingness to try out new toys and invest in new ones as the child grows and develops is crucial to the success of using toys as early learning tools. New toys provide opportunities for children to explore, learn, and develop new skills, and they also keep children engaged and motivated.

Parents who are open to trying out new toys and investing in them create an environment of learning and creativity that can help children develop a lifelong love of learning. Using new toys can help children build problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, and improve their overall cognitive development.

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