Toy shopping is a serious business. Not knowing whether I should follow marketing gimmicks designed to bankrupt me or whether I should follow my gut instinct and buy toys specific to my kids’ individual personalities, I am often left roaming every aisle in a toy store with a bewildered look on my face.
If, like me, you find toy shopping a chore more than a wonderful way to delight your precious children, then help and intervention is needed … not to worry, that’s why I’m here.
So, how do you choose a good toy that is age appropriate? A starting point for me was durability and versatility. Having a five-year-old son means that most things get deconstructed within hours of purchase and the level of interest in the toy lasts as long as my house stays clean – i.e. not very. I have learnt that the more versatile the toy, the longer the attention span to play with it, the more time mom has to unwind (big draw card).
I am also all about ensuring a child’s developmental milestones get reached and often want to buy toys that I feel would be stimulating according to my kid’s age and own personal growth. For example, I wouldn’t exactly buy a toy gun for my three-year-old, simply because I don’t find that to be stimulating or morally conscious.
Safety is another factor that comes into play when buying age-appropriate toys. A set of marbles may not be the best idea for a two-year-old as it poses a choking hazard. It may work for a six-year-old who can be taught the basic safety principles. Similarly, anything with sharp edges or which have an electrical mechanism should be avoided at all costs for kids under three. But that’s basic stuff, right?
Ultimately though, I have learnt that the best entertainment for my children is actually… wait for it … me. Make-believe is fun. Puppet costumes and silly stories are entertaining and the laughter that ensues as a result is worth more than any store-bought toy.
by Tivania Moodley