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Bright Tots - Helpful information for picking the right toy for Babies, Toddlers and Preschool kids
What to look for in developmental baby, toddler and preschool toys. Read on the importance of choosing the right
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When a toddler plays it encourages the child to discover new abilities. Play is a necessary enjoyment of childhood and is also
the way children learn about themselves, their environment and the people around them. During play toddlers learn to solve
problems, get along with others and control their bodies as they develop their creativity and build up leadership skills. Toddlers
should play with a wide variety of toys; this versatility will help them grow to their maximum potential.

The purpose of the guide is to assist in making educated decisions when selecting toys for your toddler. By using the
information in this guide, you will be able to choose the best toddler toys to meet your child’s needs.

Learning through Play

Physical skills
are developed through movement as a toddler learns to reach, grasp, crawl, run, climb and balance. Fine motor
skills (the use of hands and fingers) advance as he or she handles objects in play.

Mental skills are heightened through play that encourages problem solving and demonstrates cause and effect. Toddlers learn
about shapes, colors, sizes and other concepts through play. Language increases as a toddler interacts with others and uses
words for desired playthings and activities.

Language develops as a toddler plays and interacts with others. Beginning with cooing games with a parent and evolving to
advanced levels such as telling stories and jokes, the ability to use language improves as the toddler plays.

Social skills increase as the toddler plays. Learning to follow instructions, cooperate, negotiate, take turns and play by the rules
are all important skills learned in early games. It is through imaginative play that the toddler begins to learn some of the roles and
rules of society. Sharing play experiences also forms strong bonds between parent and toddler throughout childhood. Emotional
well being develops through positive play experiences. When a toddler feels successful and capable as he or she plays, they gain
important qualities for emotional health. Play stimulates creativity and imagination, as well, and allows the toddler to expand the
possibilities of the world around them.

General Guidelines

•        Baby & Toddler Toys (6 months – 3 years)
•        Blocks
•        Games (includes board games)
•        Learning Skills (includes lacing, sorting)
•        Literacy (includes ABCs)
•        Math (includes numbers & telling time)
•        Music
•        Pretend Play (includes make-believe, trucks)
•        Puppets (includes dolls)  
•        Puzzles  
•        Science & Nature (includes animals & dinosaurs)

Choose simple toddler toys

The more a toy does, the less there is for the child to do. A plain toy phone will lead to more imaginative conversations than a
phone with prerecorded messages. A wind-up car to push along gives better play value than a battery powered car.

Choose toys that let the toddler set the plan

Unlimited play materials put the toddler in charge of the scene. A set of stacking cups can be a tower or sailing ships in the
bathtub.

Pick playthings that grow with the toddler

A wagon with a high sturdy handle supports a beginning walker, makes a cozy crib for dolls, and can serve as a train or dump
truck in the following years.

Don't let gender rule your selections

Kitchen items, dolls, peg benches and toy trucks are things that appeal to both boys and girls alike during their early years.

Provide toddler toys that address growth in all the important areas

Large and small muscle control, pretending, thinking and problem solving, nurturing and cuddling are all important. Simple
books and some musical toys to enable toddlers to play or make music are also important. A few well chosen essentials from
these areas will assist your toddler better than a collection of sophisticated toys.

Use your imagination

Toddlers can exercise their imagination with household items. A kitchen pot and wooden spoon can be used as drum set. Turn
the pot over and it becomes a container where the toddler can place and dump blocks, spoons, or even large curlers. Food
containers with plastic lids can have the lids cut into shapes of items you already have at home. A cardboard box can be a
secret house where your toddler can play.

Read toy labels

Labels on toy packages take some of the speculation out of choosing safe, appropriate toys. Match your toddler’s
developmental level to the age on the toy’s label.

Inquire about toddler toys

Your toddler’s pediatrician or therapist can provide suggestions for appropriate toys. Some children have special challenges that
require adaptations, changes, or placement of toys. Working together, you will be able to provide your toddler with the best
environment for learning through play.

The toddler’s abilities and interests

At this stage, toddlers love testing their physical skills such as jumping, climbing, and throwing and enjoy toys for active play.
Toddlers need to practice their hand and finger coordination and enjoy putting these skills to work with basic arts and crafts,
puppets, blocks and simple puzzles. Imaginative play also begins during this developmental level.

Toddler Toy Suggestions

•        Balls (1¾ inches and larger)
•        Tricycle and helmet
•        Backyard gyms (swing, small slide, small climbing equipment)
•        Shape sorters
•        Building blocks
•        Blocks with letters and numbers
•        Stuffed animals
•        Dolls that can be bathed, fed and diapered
•        Dress-up clothes and accessories
•        Play vehicles
•        Hand and finger puppets
•        Child sized table and chairs
•        Playhouse

Developmental Toys for Toddlers

Remember to consider your toddler's interests, abilities and limitations when making a selection. Not all toddlers enjoy the same
kind of play: one child will be interested in building with blocks or doing puzzles; another may prefer riding bikes or playing ball;
your toddler may enjoy pretending with a dollhouse or a coloring book with crayons. Some toys are recommended for more
than one developmental category, because your toddler’s interest in a toy will often carry through more than one age group.
Remember to use your child’s developmental level, not actual age, when choosing toddler toys.