Tips for Choosing Toys for Toddlers

Toddlers are little explorers who learn by doing.  Play gives your child a great chance to develop and practice new skills at her own pace by following her unique interests.  Below are some ideas for choosing toys that will grow with your child, and nurture her overall development.

¨      Choose toys that can be used in a variety of ways, for example, wooden blocks or chunk plastic interlocking blocks can be used to make a road, a zoo, a bridge or a spaceship.

  • Examples- blocks, interlocking blocks, nesting blocks or cups, toys for sand and water play.

¨      Look for toys that will grow with your child, for example, small plastic animals are fun for a young toddler who may make a shoebox house for the animals while an older toddler can use them to act out a story she makes up.

  • Examples- plastic toy animals and action figures, toddler-friendly dollhouses, trains and dump trucks (and other vehicles), stuffed animals and dolls.

¨      Select toys that encourage exploration and problem- solving.

  • Examples- puzzles, shape-sorters, blocks, art materials like clay and paint, crayons and play-dough.

¨      Choose toys that spark your child’s imagination.

  • Examples- dress-up clothing, blocks, toy food and plastic plates, action figures, trains and trucks, toy tools and “real life” accessories such as a wrapping paper tube “fire hose” for your little fire fighter.

¨      Give your child a chance to play with “real” stuff.

  • Examples- plastic dishes and food, toy keys, toy phone, dress-up clothes, musical instruments, child-size brooms, mops, brushes and dustpans.

¨      Seek out toys that encourage children to be active.

  • Examples- balls of different shapes and sizes, tricycles or three-wheeled scooters, plastic bowling sets, child-sized basketball hoop, wagon to fill and pull, gardening tools to dig and rake with, boxes (open at both ends) big enough to make tunnels to crawl through.

¨      Look for toys you can play together.

  • Examples- early board games- that involve using one’s memory or simple board games that do not require reading.

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