Choose Age-Appropriate Educational Toys

First time parents know how hard it is to pick out an age appropriate toy for a child. Even those who have several children often find it difficult. There is much more to choosing the right toy for your child’s age than meets the eye. Here are a few tips to help you decide which toy best suits your little one.

* The age on the box is not always a good indicator of how appropriate a toy is for your child. That doesn’t mean that you should ignore it completely, because it usually represents the ages that the toy has been deemed safe for. But a toy that is safe for a certain age group is not necessarily appropriate for it’s educational level.

* A toy that is good for one child may not be the best choice for another child of the same age. Children learn at different rates, and while many toys are made for the average child of a certain age range, your child could be ahead or behind. Rather than relying solely on numbers, take cues from what your child is comfortable with.

* Babies need toys that are safe and stimulating. Bright, contrasting colors, unusual textures and interesting sounds are good things to look for. Toys that make noise or light up in response to the baby’s actions provide an opportunity to learn about cause and effect.

* Toddler toys should allow the child to develop his motor skills or learn about shapes, colors, animals and other basic things. Those that incorporate both motor skills and intellectual development are even better. Social skills are also beginning to develop at this stage, and items that your toddler can share with other children are a good way to encourage this. But it’s important to remember that young toddlers often prefer to play alongside other children rather than with them.

* Preschoolers are ready to learn about letters and numbers. There are all kinds of toys that can help with this, from alphabet blocks to talking books. Finding something that your child enjoys playing with that teaches these things will be a great asset to him.

* Some toys are good for a wide range of ages. Building blocks and simple wooden puzzles with large pieces, for example, can grow with a child. He could learn different things from them as a baby, toddler and preschooler. Some electronic toys are designed to teach children different things at different ages as well.

Finding the right toy for your child’s age is not as difficult as it sounds. The trick is to be less concerned about numbers and more concerned about your child’s developmental level. As long as a toy is safe for your child, if he is having fun and learning from it, that is always a good thing.

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