You are out toy shopping for your one-and-a-half year-old, but do you know which toys would be best suited for your child’s development needs? Toys are important for child development. Aside from entertainment, they can also be educational and help stimulate your child’s mind.
Children Differ in their Rate of Development
While playing with toys helps in the child’s development, the rate of development may not be the same for every child. In fact, even if two children with a similar profile are presented with the same type of toys, they may differ in the way they develop. “Both nature and nurture play a part in a child’s development,” says Ms Grace Lee Ying Chin, Senior Occupational Therapist at the Department of Child Development, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth group.
Boys and girls develop differently too, but this does not mean the toys they play with should be based solely on their gender. Instead both boys and girls should be exposed to a wide variety of toys rather than gender-specific ones.
Ms Lee says, “The types of toys to choose are very often influenced by society/environment. Many individuals already have the preconception that cars are for boys and dolls are for girls. However, boys could have fun playing with cooking toys as much as girls. Girls should be allowed to play with toy cars/trains if they want to.”
Choosing Kids’ Toys that Challenge
In addition to being age-appropriate in terms of the development of the child, toys need to provide the right amount of challenge, so that new skills can be learned. Ms Lee says, “A toy should offer some amount of difficulty to challenge the child’s skills, but it should not be too hard that it sets the child up for failure, leading to frustration at play. Play should also not be so easy that the child gets bored with it. Ultimately, play should be safe and fun too.”
Look for the following safety features in the toys you select for your child, especially children below the age of 3 who tend to put objects in their mouth:
- No sharp or rough edges
- No small parts which can loosen easily
- Not breakable or fragile