A child’s work is play, and a few retro thoughts on toy buying. The best toys are the ones that you can child enjoy at different ages and at different stages. Great toys are durable and don’t go out of style. They also don’t have to cost a lot.
Take blocks. Your baby can knock down the towers you build, your toddler can stack them, your preschooler can make worlds for his toys to inhabit. Low tech you think? When your child makes the walls of a castle one color, the roof another and alternates orange and green for the gate around the moat, she is using patterning, a pre-reading skill.
Another hallmark of the great toy is its ability to promote open-ended play. Puppets and dolls don’t come with licensed adventures and scripts. They are a blank toy upon which your child can project their imagination.
Getting too many requests for toys tied to powerful franchises? Turn off or limit the TV. If they don’t see it they won’t know they want it. Sure, they will see it at a friend’s house, and you are not going to make NO a blanket policy, but take the time to talk about the last toy they “had to have.” Do they remember the commercial? How did they make the toy seem fabulous? Did they move the toy, light it? What was the toy like at home? How long was it fun? Where is it now? If a friend has the new “it” toy, ask them what they like about it.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has an article for parents called “I Want That.”
Bananas in Oakland also offers advice on toy buying.
Here is a link to buying safe toys
And these two old school links with sound information talk about choosing age appropriate toys.
Birth through 5 years old
Which toy for which child ages 6-12