Toys can stimulate senses and fuel a child’s imagination, which helps them learn and grow. However, the key to hours of satisfaction and entertainment is to make sure toys are age-appropriate. We consulted with child psychologist, Dr Anna McKinnon, to find out what is the best toy for your child’s stage of development.
Baby and Infant Toys (0 – 2 years)
Experts agree – babies benefit from toys. Dr McKinnon notes “Choosing the correct toy fosters development in many areas, for example, physical skills, confidence and communication”. So, choose toys that will engage a baby’s senses: musical mobiles, textured stuffed animals, or toys with bright, contrasting colours – just be careful not to overstimulate them!
Toddler Toys (2 – 3 years)
Toddlers are full of energy! They therefore want toys that help them push the boundaries of their newly acquired physical and intellectual abilities. Dr McKinnon comments “The best sorts of toys stimulate the toddler’s imagination. Repetitive play is also important at this age as it allows children to learn and master new skills”. Trucks, picture books, blocks, balls, play phones and toddler trikes will all help 2 – 3 year olds learn, explore and discover.
Preschool & Kindy (3 – 5 years)
Pre-primary kids love to play pretend. At this stage, children are learning about socialisation and their imaginations are at full capacity. Dr Anna McKinnon suggests, “Children benefit from imaginative toys that help them learn about the world around them”. Accordingly, dress up costumes, doll houses, dinosaurs, bikes and scooters will allow kids to burn off their energy, both physical and mental. If the toy allows for play with other kids, so much the better.
School Age Kids (6 – 8 years)
They’ve mastered the basics and are moving on towards toys that require strategy and aptitude. Board games, handball, Pokémon, rollerblades, sporting equipment and crafts will help tune up their gross and fine motor skills. A cool action figure, Disney doll or science set won’t go astray. Dr McKinnon notes “Play at this stage of life can lead to lifelong interests and hobbies (e.g. participation in sport). The process of playing also teaches the child important skills about how to play with other children”.
Pre-Teens (9 – 12 years)
Tweens are now developing their personalities and personal preferences. But what of the conundrum of tech? Dr McKinnon, states of all things iPad, iPod and Xbox “There are benefits to the limited use of screens if the child is accessing educational content. However, too much screen time is problematic when it comes at the expense of other activities (e.g., hobbies and interests, time spent with family and friends) that foster development.” Tech toys should therefore be provided with parameters and should help cultivate other interests, not interfere with them.
What do you think about the issue of tech toys? What’s your child’s favourite toy? Get in touch and let us know. Remember, when it comes to children’s toys no matter what the age, keep it simple, safe and fun!