*This is a guest post by Kevin Doyle, co-founder of Toys Advisors blog. Being a father himself to a son and a daughter, he knows the ins and outs of choosing toys that help toddlers learn and grow through play.
Toddlers are little discoverers who love to play. But as we know, babies and toddlers also learn through play and sports. When these little explorers are interested in what they are doing and having fun at the same time, they will continue doing it. Therefore, it's important to choose toys that will help your child learn, as they play a role in his/her development.
So how do you choose which toys are the best for your child? Which ones will not only be fun but beneficial too? And which your child will enjoy playing with for a long period of time? It will be a lot easier if you have the right information to guide you. Here are some of the best choices for your toddler:
1. Encourage toys that are versatile
It's a fact that toddlers enjoy using their hands to discover new things. They enjoy taking things apart, putting them together, pulling on things, building things and other similar activities. 'Open-ended' toys such as building blocks and legos are versatile and allow your toddler to play/experiment with them in different ways.
2. Toys that look like everyday objects help in developing basic skills
As your little one is growing, he/she is starting to discover how things work. He/she is also getting interested in 'real things' like your mobile phone and other common household items. So getting your toddler toy phones/ kitchen utensils/ a plastic tool kit helps them imitate you and in the process learn how things work. It also develops your child's fine motor skills and helps make them more independent.
3. Look for toys which will grow along with your child
With such a wide array of toys available in the market, its easy to pick toys that will entertain your child for a few days and then gather dust at the back of the cupboard. Instead, invest in toys that can be fun to play with at different stages of development. A good example of such toys are small plastic animals.
4. Choose items that will prepare your child for reading and writing
Real articles such as magazines, catalogues, and even menus are fun for your child to play with – just as long as you tell them how to care for these props. Books, plastic, foam or magnetic letters, as well as art supplies, are great items that will develop your toddler's reading and early writing skills.
5. Buy toys which encourage problem solving and investigating
Play provides children with an opportunity to practice important skills. So toys which encourage problem-solving, exploring and investigating will not only make your child more independent but will help him/her develop mind power too.
Important skills such as critical thinking, spatial relations and hand-eye coordination will be honed through these kinds of toys.
6. Toys that promote sports and outdoor activities
Toddlers love physical and outdoor activities. Allow your child to play outdoors as much as possible as this will make him/her more confident in terms of body control, and physical activity is great for them too!
Getting a toy which promotes sports and outdoor activities for your toddler will be beneficial. Jump ropes, a trampoline, even a simple ball will do the trick.
7. Encourage toys that stimulate the imagination
As your little baby becomes a toddler, his/her imagination and creativity is emerging. Pretend-play is one of the fun activities your toddler will start engaging in. Try and notice what your toddler is interested in portraying and find things to support that. The experience will be a lot richer and your little one will have a lot more fun!
8. Toys which support socializing
Toys which support and encourage socializing are very important. You can get simple board games so your toddler can play with other kids or older members of the household.
These are fun and they show your child how to play and interact with others, even people of different ages. Added bonus to board games: they also help develop your child's math and memory skills.
So there! Choosing the right toys for your toddler is easier when you know what you're looking for. Nowadays when gadgets and the Internet are taking centerstage, simple toys which are fun and beneficial must not be overlooked.