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Raising Children Topics..

You are here : home > Raising Children > Entertaining Children > Choosing the Right Toys for your Toddler

Choosing the Right Toys for your Toddler

Choosing the Right Toys for your Toddler

A no-win situation?

Vimal Sathe, mother of two-year-old Kartik complains, "My husband and I have spent a fortune on toys for Kartik, but he spends most of his time playing with the television remote or making a racket with a spoon and a thali."

Monica D'Souza bought her toddler a toy piano that plays two popular nursery rhymes when you press the keys. She says, "For about three days my daughter would play with nothing else but the piano. I thought I would scream if I heard 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' again. On the fourth day, she totally lost interest in it and the toy is just gathering dust since then."

Today, when parents go into a toy shop, they are greeted by the sight of a bewildering array of toys claiming to be both educative and entertaining. But all this comes for a price. Parents spend a fortune buying toys, wanting to do the best there is for their children. However, most parents find that they spend more time playing with these toys than their children do. 

Toddlers are at the stage of discovery in their lives. They come across new things around every corner. Given the competition, toys often fall sadly short in the long-term interest department. However, that does not mean that toys are redundant because household items are not going to offer a sufficient challenge to a toddler's rapidly growing abilities in the long run. 

Some tips for selecting the 'right' toys

  • Try to keep the toys solid and simple. Avoid toys with sharp edges or that have toxic paints because toddlers have a tendency to put everything into their mouths. A toddler's concept of play usually involves bashing the toy about a few times and maybe even hurling it across the room for good measure. Obviously, delicate mechanisms are a no-no. Go for durability.
  • A ball is a toddler's delight. She can kick it, throw it, bounce it, roll it and crawl after it. It is portable and she will be delighted if she can carry a large, but light beach ball around by herself. In addition, the ball is a tool for initiating social interaction. The toddler rises that when she throws or rolls the ball to someone, they usually throw it back.
  • Speaking of toys that encourage interaction, toy telephones top the list. You and your toddler could entertain yourselves by having pretend conversations. At a later stage, you will find that dolls, stuffed toys, toy utensils, etc. also encourage role play and fantasy activities in your toddler.
  • Toddlers can hardly be expected to 'read' at this stage in their lives. They usually begin their reading careers by turning the pages of a book back and forth. Thus, it is advisable to buy books with stiff cardboard pages with large colourful images. As the toddler's attention span, memory and language skills develop, she will appreciate books in which there are pictures she can point to and name. Later, she will graduate to the story book stage.
  • Parents often buy form boards and stacking rings for their toddlers as they are under the impression that toys like this facilitate the toddler's learning of colours, shapes and forms. There is no evidence to support this presumption. Children do not need to be bought special toys for this purpose as long as they have free access to household items. Children in this exploratory stage tend to take things apart and manipulate them, which may not be the best way to handle household items. Thus, the only advantage of these toys is if they are durable and inexpensive.
  • Puzzles are usually beyond a toddler's capabilities. However, two and three piece puzzles are now available and could be tried out. Since your toddler's small muscles may not have developed enough to allow for the precise movements necessary to manipulate the puzzle pieces, look for those that have small knobs or handles attached to the pieces.
  • Toddlers normally love to draw and colour. They will scribble on any surface including the walls. Initially, they have trouble holding the pencil or crayon and tend to make wild strokes. They may also show a preference for one particular colour and ignore all the others. Thus, buying your toddler colouring books might be a little premature. Give her an endless supply of rough paper to try out her artistic skills. Colouring books may be provided once her small motor skills are further developed and she becomes interested in stories. 
  • Simple mechanical toys enhance the development of small muscle skills. Toddlers are usually fascinated by toys that contain levers, push buttons, dials, hinges, etc. that they can manipulate in different ways. E.g. Small hammering toys and peg boards, or large interlocking beads that can be pulled apart and pushed together. Such toys have far more value than fancy battery-operated toys that do ten different things all by themselves.
  • Toddlers enjoy playing with building blocks. However, it is advisable that parents buy blocks made of lighter material like cardboard or plastic other than the traditional wooden ones. This will make the blocks easier to 'construct' with. Also, keeping in mind that children enjoy knocking down their constructions almost as much as they enjoy making them, blocks made of lighter material will cause less damage. 
  • One last tip. Don't worry if your toddler doesn't play with the toys you buy her like it is shown on the box or the way that your neighbour's child plays. Every child has their own way of playing and they do learn. 

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Neeta.10 years ago
Now another good news is for Bangaloreans... You can rent all branded toys without compromising on quality & safety from (
veena.10 years ago
if pictures of toys are include along with the age groups it could be
clear for a browser to view quickly and could save a lot of text reading
Shivpriya Iyer
Shivpriya Iyer.10 years ago
it would be very helpful to know whether there are any legislation in case of accidents occuring due to tots and types of toys related accidents
S.Ghosh.10 years ago
fisher-price which i now find in india as well, seems to have exactly the kind of toys mentioned in the article. i would recommend mothers to check these toys out.
Nitinchandra S Rajurkar

i am interested to know what qualities are developed in children when they play with particular toy or alternatively if we want to develop a particular quality which toys or games will be required?

is there any theory, empirical observation, or probability?

it will be helpful if you specify toys age wise.
Ravi Kulkarni
Ravi Kulkarni.10 years ago
some of the points not mentioned in the article: children loose interest in toys if you don't show interest in them. case in point: play dough. my wife always makes it a point to play with my son. however if she doesn't periodically keep it away for some time or if she doesn't take it out and play with him, he seldom shows any interest.

on the whole, the article reflects the popular misconception that toddlers are incapable. my son started completing with 12 piece puzzles before he was 20 months old. activities like reading should actually start much earlier (like 3 months) for the babies.

household items can always be used for toys, and perhaps children like them best as toys. it makes sense; after all they see grown ups using these items for work.
shilpa sharma
shilpa sharma.10 years ago
being a toy design student,i can say that it is a constant challenge for us to "design" "child development"background has given me the direction for designing developmentally appropriate toys.its a constant challenge to come up with designs which would be enjoyable and provide learning and challenge to particularly interested in designs for special children.
pinky.10 years ago
i would advice parents to better join a toy library to make things easy for everyone with the constraint of time, money and place.
ren.10 years ago
i am a child devleopment specialist, and have found that parents must follow their child's lead and interest to choose a toy. if child is playing with household things, observe your child, and find out what part of skill does the household thing challenges your child and buy a toy that can give your child similar challenge. frankly speaking you must not buy a toy and make it your childs toy.....
Hiren's Father
Hiren's Father.10 years ago
in my opinion toy is real toy and we should keep the value of toy as we value of the player of the toy. means it is not necessary that only our child should play with the toys basically every child should be in positionto play with toys and there has to be a collective collection centre which can distirbute used or donated toyes to needy ones
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