"HELP! It's almost the gift giving time of the year and I have no clue what to get for (insert name here!)"
Choosing a toy for the holidays doesn't have to be difficult if you follow these easy steps.
1. Is is SAFE?
First and foremost ask yourself, "Will the toy last through rough play and not break or hurt the child?" Also included here would be "Is it age appropriate?"
In my house right now that mainly means "Will she swallow this WHEN she puts it in her mouth?" *Tip- to see if something is safe for young child, see if it will fit through a toilet paper tube. If it fits, it's too small!
Toys with batteries, strong magnets, strings, and pull cords longer than a foot should be avoided unless it's for an older child.
Personally, I try and avoid painted toys unless they are made in Europe or the U.S. (and locally made toys are BEST!)
Then, make sure you keep up with recalls here and on the manufacturer's website.
2. Will it LAST?
Is the toy well made?
Will it last through more than one child? (Will it be able to be passed on or donated when child is done playing with it?) My kids play with some toys that were mine, my husband's, and even their grandparents'. I'd say that was money well spent!
Also, "Will the toy grow with the child?" Will they be able to get years of play out of the gift? For example and nice set of wooden blocks will be fun for a baby, but also for an older child.
3. Does it have VALUE? (Social/Educational/Entertainment)
Some things to ask:
"Is it a toy they can play with others with?"
"Does it teach them something?"
FACT: Children learn by playing. Toys can help them learn cooperation, sharing, shapes, sizes, colors, language, and so much more!
and most importantly...
"IS IT FUN?"
4. Keep it SIMPLE!
Toys should not be too complicated to play with. Let the child use THEIR imaginations to make their stories come alive, not have the toy dictate how they should play. The more moving parts, the more that can go wrong/break also!
The best tip?
Pretend that you are the child you're buying the toy for...
What would you think was the most fantastic gift?
Does this child love animals? (Maybe a cute animal puppet or even a zoo membership!)
Do they like things that go? (Balls, toy cars or trains, a book of paper airplane designs?)
Are they fond of puzzles? (wooden or cardboard puzzles, book of Suduko, stacking cups or blocks!)
Check out my Pinterest boards to see some great gift ideas for kids of all ages!
Arkansas Better Beginnings has great tips for choosing toys on their website here.