We’re all aware that infants prefer the packaging to the product 99% of the time!
But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be given gifts to stimulate their young minds and senses. Soft toys that are huggable and washable are best at the earlier stage. Something they can hold on to and develop their hand grasp. Hard toys are not really appropriate because they can tend to hit themselves because of their lack of coordination. Mobiles to stimulate eye coordination are also a good choice. A soft toy or blanket they can take to bed or out with them is an ideal gift.
Older infants will enjoy things they can clutch such as brightly coloured soft balls and items, bath toys, cloth books, teething toys and plastic key rings. Babies also enjoy musical toys and toys that light up.
From Mums point of view, soft clothing, nappies and lovely bed linen would be a wonderful gift choice, a suitable high chair or nursery piece would also be appreciated.
It doesn’t take long before a child needs more stimulation from their toys and the years between 1 and 5 are a huge learning experience for children. It is very important at this stage to pick age appropriate toys, as children will be pulling them apart, putting them in their mouths and tossing them about.
Between the years of 1 – 3 active children will enjoy toys they can pull along, play mats that stimulate the senses, stacking toys such as cups and anything that stimulates exploration.
For those between the ages 3 -5 mental stimulation increases and toys such as play dough, stringing large beads, cutting and sticking, painting, large crayons and pencils, shape sorters, blocks, large puzzles, musical instruments, water play toys, picture books and chalk boards all are enjoyed. Creative and pretend play also excites children in this age group so costumes, cubbies and dress up props are a great hit. Toys they can play with others such as dolls, tea sets, baskets and trolleys, trucks, interactive mats and group play activities all become important at this stage. Preschoolers love to play with other children.
Between the ages of 6 – 8 children need toys that help develop their coordination so activity based toys such as bat and balls, ball and glove, hoops and golf clubs all encourage this skill. Musical and art appreciation develops so instruments and painting/drawing/craft kits are a good choice at this age.
Children in the 9 – 11 age groups now begin to develop more complex social interactions so gifts including board games, diaries, computer games, MP3 players and DVD’s will all be appreciated.
Individual gifts such as sewing kits, an aquarium, a magnifying glass, stethoscope, crafting clay, magnets and magazines for their age group are all good gifts to consider. They also enjoy highly personalised gifts at this age so artwork with their name on it, stationery and cards are also worth considering.
This is a great age group for gift giving and the possibilities are endless! Consider the child you re buying for, their personality, likes and dislikes and maturity so you can choose a unique gift to suit them.
It’s also important to make sure the toy you are buying is safe for the child you are buying it for. Little plastic pieces can be a choking hazard for a child.
Here is the link to Product Safety Australia for more safety information.
There are some common sense recommendations to help with child safety.
Read the label. Warning labels give important information about how to use a toy and what ages the toy is safe for.
Think LARGE. Make sure all toys and parts are larger than your child’s mouth to prevent choking
Avoid toys that shoot objects into the air. They can cause serious eye injuries or choking.
Look for stuffed toys that are well made. Make sure all the parts are on tight and seams and edges are secure. It should also be machine washable. Take off any loose ribbons or strings to avoid strangulation. Avoid toys that have small bean-like pellets or stuffing that can cause choking or suffocation if swallowed.
Buy plastic toys that are sturdy. Toys made from thin plastic may break easily.
Avoid toys with toxic materials that could cause poisoning. Make sure the label says “nontoxic.”
Be careful when buying cot toys. Strings or wires that hang in a cot should be kept short to avoid strangulation. Cot toys should be removed as soon as your child can push up on his hands and knees.