There is a terrifyingly huge array of baby toys on the market and entire stores devoted to the play needs of a toddler or baby. Of course, for most of us, those brightly colored toys are what we’ve been waiting for as our baby grew. You might be ready for a room full of entertainment for your baby, but is that really what she needs or even wants? Finding the best toys for your baby or toddler isn’t always as simple as just picking up the most colorful box on the toy aisle – or the least colorful for that matter.
There has been a shift among many toys from forms of play to forms of entertainment. Your goal with toys isn’t to just entertain your baby. Avoid any toys that seek to keep your little one thrilled with songs, lights, flashing or just buttons. If the sole purpose of the toy is to push a button to see balls move around or to hear a fuzzy friend sing, you’re missing the most critical element.
Toys should be encouraging your baby to develop skills and learn in a fun way while they play. They are entertained pressing a magic button for songs and flashing lights, but they are also entertained turning on the television for songs and flashing lights. Look for toys instead that challenge your child in a fun way. Blocks she can practice building with, dolls she can dress and put to bed, trains she can zoom around while making her own sound effects. If the toy is doing more than your child during play time, you have a problem.
Every toy should be educational on some level. But the best toys for learning aren’t the ones trying to replace human interaction through electronics. A book that reads itself is fun for your child to play with sometimes, but don’t be fooled into thinking a talking book will teach your child to read. The talking book or animal or video game can help your child practice skills and that is certainly educational, but many of the educational games or toys aren’t as fun for children to play with, and they would enjoy sitting down and reading with a parent much more anyhow. Enjoy educational toys for what they are, but don’t plan on experiencing miracles if the toy is doing all of the work and your child isn’t doing much at all.
The price of toys can add up tremendously, and it’s frustrating to spend quite a bit only to find your child more interested in the box the toy came in than the toy itself. To avoid bankruptcy from toy purchases, seek out used toy solutions as much as possible. Garage sales, eBay, Craigslist and consignment shops all tend to have toys for far less than you’d expect to pay in the store. Trading or sharing toys with friends is a great way to recycle and spice up the toy selection for everyone in a group – especially if you’re able to pass toys around to babies with staggered birthdays keeping everything in a small circle of families with young children.
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