Many toys have age-range information on their packaging. This can be useful, but in terms of play, it’s only a guide. Your child’s interests and stage of development will probably give you a better sense of what to choose. Age-range information can be important for safety, however – for example, when toys contain small parts that could be swallowed by a baby. In these cases, it’s wise to follow the recommended age-range information.
For your baby, the best ‘toy’ and play partner is you, a carer or other close family member. Your baby will delight in watching your face, listening to your voice and simply being with you. He/She’ll also enjoy looking at a brightly coloured mobile, listening to a wind-up musical toy or learning to reach for a rattle. When your baby can sit up, he/she might also like things she can bang – a wooden spoon to bang on a pot is every bit as much fun as a purpose-built toy.
Toddlers love to play with boxes, and often find the wrapping a present comes in more fun than the present itself. Other good choices for toddlers include construction toys and clothing for dress-ups.
Older children often like to solve problems and use their imagination. Puzzles or games that get your child playing with others are also good choices. The best toys for children in this age are ‘open-ended’. These are the toys that encourage your child to play using imagination, creativity and problem-solving skills. everyday household items often make great open-ended toys. Pots and pans, plastic containers, pegs, clothes baskets, blankets ... children can find a way to play with almost anything! One important note – any household items your child plays with should be safe, so avoid sharp objects, or small objects that could cause your child to choke.