How to choose age-appropriate toys for children?

The significance of toys in social, physical, emotional and cognitive development of children is an undeniable fact. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) asserts that not only the toys should be useful but also age appropriate. Psychologists suggest that children learn new skills at every stage of life based on their interests. Therefore, it is essential to pay attention to their development and provide relevant equipment at each stage.  We have already covered the significant role of toys in child development. This article aims to provide an age-wise guideline for parents to choose age-appropriate toys for children based on their developmental stage.

Read More: How Toys Play a Significant Role in Child Development?

Age-Appropriate Guideline for Parents

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends choosing toys for children according to the standard developmental milestones chart. Following is the guideline to choose age-appropriate toys for children based on the charts.

Babies: 0-12 Months

Newborn babies like to search for sounds, new faces, and bright colors. They like to shake toys, grab things and tap on surfaces. As they grow, they learn to transfer things from one hand to another and recognize voices of different types. They also start to learn about cause and effect, how to respond to other people, rock back and forth, start to sit with support and push toys.

Appropriate toys for babies of this age include play gyms, mirrors, hanging toys, soft cloth blocks, musical toys, rattles, picture books, push-pull carts, and walker.

Toddlers: 1-3 Years

Children at this age have either just started walking or are trying to walk. They can now respond to reading, might say few words, gesture, and copy actions. They follow instructions to some extent, pretend play with stuffed toys like feeding the doll and can grip things. As they grow older, they start interacting with other kids and follow simple instructions like pass or kick the ball. They also identify things, animals, and people, take interest in stories, and draw with crayons or pencils. By age 3, children often start to solve big sized puzzles, take turns, use blocks, open boxes or jars and ride tricycle.

Appropriate toy groups for this age include balls, shape sorting, mechanical toys and role play toys. Such groups include toys like pegboard puzzles, building blocks, toys with buttons, levers and holes, toy hammers, play sets for kitchen, medical kits, stuffed toys and drawing pads.

Preschoolers: 3-5 Years

When kids reach age of a preschoolers, they have usually developed all five senses through experiences and play. In this age, cognitive and physical development is at initial and crucial stage. By this age, kids understand to use of all age appropriate toys. They can get the instructions easily and can create stories out of play as well. The motor skills and hands and eye coordination is improved as well. Also, at this stage, some electronic toys and gadgets can be handled well by the preschoolers.

The age appropriate toy groups for this age includes more puzzles with increased difficulty levels, building blocks and construction sets, arts and crafts. They also play with and advanced role play sets like doll houses, tea party toys, use of scissors and crafting material, sand and clay sets and counting toys. For motor skills, scooters and bicycles as well as hula hoops and ball toys work well for cognitive and physical development.

Primary School Children: 6-12 years

Children from primary school are in the most interesting developmental stage of their life. At this age, children are mostly mastering on their already acquired skills and senses. They are also building upon their knowledge and learning new things each day. At primary school level, children learn to play in groups and are happy with challenging toys. It is at this stage that their interest in particular activities or toys gain special attention.

The age appropriate toy groups for this age includes motor skill development toys or sports kit, card and board games, science toys, grooming kits, musical instruments and literacy toys. Some of the age appropriate toys for this age includes jumping ropes, skateboards or roller blades, badminton or basketball hoops. Some other options include weaving sets, jewelry making sets, remote control cars and planes, science kits, robotics kits, board games like Ludo, checkers, chess, monopoly, literacy toys like scrabble, Pictionary, reading books and cross word puzzles. At this age, kids also start to take genuine interest in learning new skills like playing guitar, piano or keyboards. Science toys for this age includes chemistry or physics related kits, easy robotics kits or simple circuit building kits, telescopes or magnifying glass, complex Legos or puzzles and many more.

It is very important to understand the significance of aiming to choose and provide age-appropriate toys to children. While the interest of most kids shift to online games and screen activities, there are well known side effects of excessive reliance on such devices. Therefore, parents need to avoid buying unnecessary toys and gadgets for their children. Spend only on useful toys that are highlighted by professional psychologists and educationists for encouraging physical, cognitive and social development of children.

Read More: Can Smart devices make babies Smarter? A Scientific Debate

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