Because there is such a variety to choose from, the task of choosing a toy which you thought was simple may seem daunting to you. Fortunately, most toy stores and toy packaging will indicate the suitability of toys by age. However, knowing a thing or two about what might be suitable for your child should make you feel confident about your purchase.
Because toys and the play that children engage in with those toys help nurture motor skills and social, cognitive and emotional development it is good to match the toy to the development stage of your child for the best benefit. Keep in mind that each child will develop at their own pace so an age or stage recommendation is just that a recommendation.
Use your judgement when purchasing. Therefore, in addition to being safe, look for toys that can be used by the child past the recommended age and stage of development or a little younger. Construction toys like building blocks or lego Ninjago sets work well for both younger and older children around the recommended age/stage because they will interact with the toy differently at each age/stage. A younger child will simply stack the blocks while an older child will attempt to build a structure with the same blocks.
Babies 0 to 12 months are just beginning to experience their surroundings and for the first 3 months or so will not be able to make out much of what is around them as their eyes will still not be receiving sharp images. Choose toys that have bright contrasting colours to help the child differentiate. Toys for this age group will help them interact through sound and texture as their motor skills have yet to develop. Infants mouth their toys so choose non-toxic materials. Choose brightly coloured rattles, toys that squeak and soft toys.
Children who are between 1 to 2 years old are enthralled by anything that responds to the motor skills they have acquired. They love to pull, push, hit and press. Toys such as nesting cups, toys that make different sounds when buttons are pressed and push and pull type toys will all be a hit with this age group.
At 2 to 3 years of age children have developed fine motor skills needed to become more adept at handling their toys. At this stage, they will role-play or pretend-play with their dolls and bears and will gravitate towards toys that make realistic sounds like the horn of a car or the ringtone of a phone rather than the squeaking noises appreciated by younger children.
Buy them construction toys, toys that help them with their make-believe scenarios like a tea party for dolls and transportation toys like trucks, buses and trains that make realistic sounds.