One of the things parents are often unprepared for once they start having kids is the role toys will play in everyone’s lives.
Obviously we know and understand that kids will play with toys – that’s what kids do! But navigating constant toy marketing at every turn, little hands tugging on your shirt pleading for the latest fun toy on the market, and the inevitable playroom messes that come from saying “yes” too often to those pleading requests can be more than a little overwhelming for any parent!
There are some staggering statistics out there that illustrate just how big the toy industry has become in our culture.
In this British study it was found that the average 10-year old owns 238 toys, but only plays with 12 on an average day!
And this study done by UCLA concluded that, while only 3.1% of the world’s children live in the United States, they own 40% of the toys consumed globally.
Are you as shocked by these numbers as I am?
The reality is, toys are a wonderful addition to our children’s lives, and can serve many great purposes.
But it’s important to be mindful consumers when it comes to choosing the kind (and amount!) of toys we bring into our homes and lives.
How can we choose the best kinds of toys for our kids, and ensure that they’ll love their play things?
Tips for Choosing Toys for Your Kids (That They’ll Love!)
1. Choose toys that spark creativity
We are big believers in choosing toys that get your kids’ creative juices flowing. Loud, flashy toys that simply entertain for a few minutes before losing a child’s interest leave a lot to be desired.
However, toys that encourage a child’s creativity will entertain for hours on end, while also helping develop their brains and imagination.
Examples of creative toys include blocks, Legos, marble run, gear set, art supplies, dolls, magna tiles, play dough, or a play kitchen, etc.
Even everyday objects can be fantastic toys and lend themselves to hours of creative play. For example: cups of water and large $0.50 paint brushes from Home Depot are perfect for “painting” the side of the house or outdoor toys.
2. Choose toys that encourage collaborative play
One of the biggest skills our kids can learn is how to engage and interact well with others. When you provide playthings that encourage collaborative play, you’re providing opportunities for your kids to learn cooperation and teamwork.
You are also offering opportunities for sharing, role playing and taking turns (something we are very passionate about here at The Sharing Exchange™!)
Examples of collaborative toys are dress up clothes, waffle blocks (anything that allows for building), cards, train set, doll house, board games, and make believe toys.
3. Choose toys that get your kids outside
“Spending time outdoors is a crucial part of healthy growth and development, according to the National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play.”
Instead of keeping your kids cooped up inside for hours playing on their tablets or watching TV, invest in quality outdoor toys like bicycles, scooters, a little trampoline, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, balls, mini-sandbox or a water table.
For a more comprehensive list of suggestions for games and toys based on your child’s play personality, click here to take our quiz and download our FREE activity guide!
4. Focus on quality over quantity
Less really is more when it comes to kids and their toys. Focusing on choosing high quality, versatile, and durable playthings will take everyone so much further than filling every nook and cranny of your playroom with every toy imaginable.
5. Employ a “try before we buy” mentality for trendy toys
How many times has a TV commercial advertising the latest “cool” toy come on, resulting in your kids begging you for whatever said toy was?
There are new toys coming out every single day – it’s enough to give anyone consumer whiplash, including our kids!
The reality is, children have a naturally short attention span, so continuously buying them all the latest toys on the market just results in lots of playroom clutter made up of a bunch of rarely (if ever) used toys.
Instead of buying a new toy right away, why not try renting using The Sharing Exchange™ and testing it out before you buy?
If it’s truly something your child falls in love with, then you can feel good about investing in a quality toy you know your child will get good mileage out of.
On the other hand, if they play with it for a day and then forget all about it, you’ll have saved yourself time, money and space by testing it out first.
6. Choose toys that have an educational component
A last tip to bear in mind when choosing toys for your children is whether they support age-appropriate development.
Not every toy needs to have an educational component, but at least a few toys should help to support your child’s stage of development.
Ask yourself, “Does this toy foster reasoning skills or exploration? Does it offer any pre-literacy awareness? Does it help with number concepts or motor development?”
Hopefully this has your wheels turning and has inspired you to change the way you approach buying toys for your kiddos.
What are some favorite toys that both you and your children have loved? What made those toys so special?