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Educational Toys for Children

Retailers have provided parents with a wide variety of choices available when it comes to purchasing toys for our children. It can often be confusing to know which toys parents should buy. Good toys should meet several criteria.

First, toys should be age appropriate. Focus on what your child needs to develop both physically and emotionally and look for toys that can help them grow in those areas. For example, a baby needs toys that can help him learn to reach and grasp learning hand/eye coordination and stimulation. While toddlers that can walk need toys they can pack around with them as they explore their surroundings. Observe what interests your older children already exhibit and offer toys that can assist in developing these hobbies and creative skills. Would they benefit from a magic sets, lapidary and beading tools or scientific telescope? Or do their interests focus more on physical activities like gymnastics you may want to consider a trampoline, floor mat, stilts or pogo stick to encourage these strength's.

Avoid toys that could be lost or swallowed. Toys need to be sturdy as well. Toys that break easily can be a unexpected safety hazard. Look at toys from a child's point of view and anticipate how rough they might be on it. You should ask yourself what part could break first and why? According to the National Safety Council, well over 6 million children are injured each year by accidents involving children's toys and other products.

The age guide on all toys will not only give you an idea of how advanced the toy is, but is also based on how many parts there are and how little those part are.

As a parent of four children I often judge a toy by what kind of storage options it offers. No matter how fabulous a toy is if the parts can easily be lost it will not be a fabulous toy for long. Manufacturers are starting to listen to parents needs. I have seen dolls and doll accessories packaged in a diaper bag. Blocks in plastic storage containers and interactive toy camping equipment in backpacks. I am willing to pay a little bit more for storable toys and find that they do save you headaches in the end.

Look for toys that will not stifle a child's imagination. In our world of electronics it is very common to find toys where the focus of play is in the toy - not in the child. Mechanical toys are entertaining but take away a child's chance to participate in the fun interactively. Avoid toys that will not teach or develop skills. The best toys let a child think or perform.

If you child has an interest in a hobby, avoid buying a cheap imitation of the real thing it is still a toy. Whenever possible save up money to buy the real thing. For example, will your child get more use out of a real sewing machine instead of the play one they want? Would money be better spent on your budding artist by purchasing real beginning artist's brushes rather than a cheap watercolor set with hard to control blunt brushes. Often a bad purchase can discourage newly found talents when a child gets frustrated with the end result the product created.

Children can become overwhelmed at gift-giving occasions to the point that they don't know what to play with or can't concentrate on one toy long enough to let their creativity bloom. It may not be due to the wrong kind of toys, but rather, to many toys! Long term exposure to excessive gifts can actually be harmful to children. As they grow older they could be learning that "things" and spending money is the only important things worth seeking in life. If being given everything they want is normal for children they don't learn the value of earning or work ethics.

Giving our children gifts is not a bad thing but when choosing appropriate toys remember the old saying: buy "quality not quantity".

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