Sunday, August 22, 2010

Choosing The Best Toys For Your Children

Guest Post: Choosing The Best Toys For Your Children by Eric Waters.

With seemingly thousands of new toys introduced each year it can sometimes be rather daunting trying to decide which ones are the best choice for your child. Here are some tips and guidelines for parents that hopefully prove helpful the next time you're shopping for new toys for your children.

One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing toys is age appropriateness. The manufacturer-provided age guidelines on toys are generally a good guideline to start with. Toddlers and children up to around a year old typically do well with toys that are engaging to their senses. Toys that are bright and colorful are especially appropriate. In addition toys that provide tactile response and/or produce sounds make suitable playthings for children within this age group.

Another aspect of age to consider is that many times younger children won't respond well to toys designed for older kids. Conversely an older child will usually become quickly bored with a toy designed for younger children. However there is another side to this argument that highlights an interesting point. A toy designed for older children when given to a younger child who is advanced for their age can be validating to them and foster self-esteem. Bolstering a child's self-esteem while also reinforcing positive behavior is always a great idea.

In addition there is of course a safety aspect to consider as well as toys designed for older kids sometimes involve small pieces that could pose a choking hazard for younger children. It's always a good idea to play it safe and really look over the components of a toy or game to ensure that this isn't an issue.

Most parents and educators will agree that the best toys are those that not only entertain children but also engage their brains and stimulate learning and/or motor skills. There's absolutely nothing wrong with making playtime a productive time as well so long as it is also still fun for the child. Toys that encourage creativity are always a great idea. One of my favorite playthings that fit this criteria when I was a young child was the venerable Etch-a-Sketch.

Durability is also an important factor to consider when purchasing a new toy, especially when buying toys for younger children (or older rambunctious kids for that matter). Given that children are notoriously rough on their playthings and that some of your modern toys can be fairly expensive you want to ensure that they are built to last.

Above all don't forget that the goal is to let playtime be a fun time for your children!

Eric Waters writes for Home Exercise System, an online retailer of Total Gym exercise equipment.

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