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Western Kentucky University

Your Developing Child

child with puzzle

Selecting Toys by Jill Norris, MPH

Read this in Spanish: La selección dejuguetes

When choosing a toy, it is best to pay careful attention to the safety and durability of the materials of which the toy is made and the age child it is made for. Toys that are age inappropriate could be a safety hazard for younger children. It is also important to consider the educational value of toys and recognize that this criterion is not necessarily met through high cost. We have all seen children who are more interested in playing with a large box than with the toys that came in it.

Look for toys that teach children to build muscle control, use their imagination, solve problems, figure out how things work, and learn to cooperate with others.

Toys for young infants (birth to six months) should encourage looking, listening, sucking, and grasping. Suggested toys for this age group are things such as unbreakable crib mirrors, rag dolls, stuffed toys and simple hand puppets. Infants 6-12 months of age need toys to support their social, cognitive, and physical development. Ideal toys are floating objects for bath play, construction materials, simple puzzles, balls, and cloth and board books.

As toddlers become increasingly mobile and independent, one year-olds need toys that involve dressing, lacing, and stringing materials, picture and nursery rhyme books, nontoxic crayons for scribbling and stacking materials. For older toddlers, consider role-playing toys, pegboards, and large balls to kick, throw and catch.

Three to five-year-olds tend to be interested in toys that promote pretend play, encourage language development and increase social skills. Blocks, dramatic play materials, a variety of books, and simple games are good choices for this age group.

School age children (6 to 8 years of age) need toys that focus on more specialized skill development. Suggested items for this age group include, art and craft materials, books, more complex games that involve turn-taking, as well as natural objects such as sea shells that foster an interest in science.

For additional information on selection of appropriate toys, check out these websites:

* American Academy of Pediatrics

* National Association for the Education of Young Children

Articles For Parents  brought to you by the WKU CCR&R

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 Last Modified 11/13/14