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Choosing Developmentally Appropriate Toys For Our Toddlers

Children learn about the world through play. Toys play an important part in your child’s development by engaging them physically and mentally in a fun and interesting manner. Toys also help to develop your child’s necessary skills vital for their later years.

With the wide selection of toys available in the market, it can be overwhelming for both children and parents alike!

Since playing is serious work for children (pun intended), it is important for parents to help their children select developmentally appropriate toys.

Toys in the market are broadly designed to cater to an age range, therefore we need to be mindful that each child grows at their unique pace . So never panic if your child is late to do a few things.

Here is a quick guide on how to select suitable toys that can help our children’s developed the skills during this milestone.

Toys to grow their physical abilities

To develop your children’s gross motor skills, choose toys that emphasize coordination and balance, whilst building their arm and leg strength.

  • Push or pull toys like a wagon or a pull along toy.
  • Ride-on toys like a rocker, balance bike or paddle tricycle. Avoid battery-powered ride-on toys, as it is better for the child to get the exercise and you do not have to worry about battery safety concerns.
  • Sports equipment, such as the soft bat, basketball hoops and large rubber/foam balls, for all that kicking and throwing.
  • Play structures for those with adequate indoor/outdoor space. It can be in the form of a climbable surface with slides, swings, tunnels. Or simply DIY and make cardboard cartons to climb through.

Your child may not be adept at fine-motor action yet, so choose toys that involve hand-eye coordination to practice honing their fine motor skills.

  • Stacking and building toys such as wooden/plastic/foam/cardboard blocks or stacking rings and cups.
  • Art supplies! Brushes, large crayons, washable markers, hand paints and lots of paper. Need we say more?

Toys to grow their cognitive skills

Cognitive development means how children explore, think and figure things out. Brain development is part of cognitive development and this shapes children’s dispositions, how they problem-solve and learning patterns and learning skills.

These skills enable children to process the multitude of sensory information that they are receiving, and thereafter analyze, make comparisons, understand the cause and effect and retain them in their memory. Although some cognitive skill development is related to a child’s genetic makeup, most cognitive skills are learned.

The great news about this is many of the toys that are used to develop cognitive development also help to hone their fine motor skills.

  • Manipulation toys. There is a wide variety of toys such as knobbed wood pieces, jigsaws of up to 20 pieces, foam puzzles with large interlocking pieces, lacing sets, large threading beads.
  • Pattern making toys, such as felt boards, magnetic boards, pegboards with large pegs and matching games like a shape sorter, a very good and inexpensive toy that is not only appealing but is also aids in the learning of shapes and similarities recognition.
  • Pretend playsets, whether it is cookery sets or Handy Mandy toolsets. Make-believe and let the children get creative and think freely!
  • Musical instruments, little drum sets, tinkly piano ones to let them get noisy of course.

Toys to grow their language and communication skills

Speech development is crucial in effectively communicating with others throughout life and play has a massive impact on speech development. By the age of two, some children may already have a wide vocabulary of single words and are beginning to progress from using a one-word answer (“No” being the most common one) to short sentences (“I don’t want”. They just don’t get easier…) to communicate their needs, thoughts, and feelings.

It is also around this age, children tend to grow from solitary play and start to get social, engaging other children to play together. The ability for a child to hold a conversation while listening to what is being said gets increasingly important.

Developing communication is predominantly develop through the practice of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Parents involvement and engagement are critical to developing children’s communication skills and these tools are great aids which are also excellent bonding activities.

  • Books! A short story or nursery rhymes; hardcover books, cloth books or interactive electronic books; expose children with as much variety as possible. Reading to them also helps them to pick up the language with ease and cultivate the habit of reading.
  • Picture cards. The brightly coloured images that go along with words are great tools to help children widen their vocabulary.

Development appropriate toys are awesome tools to pique children’s interest, grow their abilities and expand their skills. All kids develop at their rate, so there’s no need to worry when children are slow to develop some of these skills. However, if there’s any concern about developmental delays, talking to your child’s doctors would be a good avenue.

Nonetheless, with patience and exposure, we will see that the development of our children will amaze us.

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