Gift Guide For Children At Christmas
Toys. Just saying the word brings a smile to anyone’s face! Adults can quickly tell you what their favorite toy was growing up. Picking out toys for kids can be tricky in today’s world! Age and gender must sometimes be considered. Toy shopping can send any adult into a state of panic! Age appropriate toys are important. There are age guidelines on all toys. Children develop differently and parents can best choose their toys. What about first time parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents or friends? The age appropriate guideline is very helpful. You would not want to buy a puzzle for a 6 month old baby or a cooking set for a 16 year-old.
Gender – Toys are often separated by gender. Toy packages or advertisements will show boys or girls playing with a particular item. Toys are even more gender separated now than in past years. Toy stores may even separate the store by girl side and boys side. In the past, toys were gender specific for the roles boys and girls would play as adults.
Girl toys were very domestic in nature like kitchen sets, sewing and baking. Boy toys were construction or building like blocks, erector sets or carpentry sets. The early 1970’s were revolutionary for toys. Advertisements switched things up and started showing boys playing with kitchens and girls playing with building sets. They were challenging the gender stereotypes. Unfortunately, this was a short-lived trend. In the 1980’s advertisement and packaging went back to boy only and girl only.
Many parents do not follow gender specific toy selection for their children. This is fine and allows for more creative play and exploration. My own children played with all types of toys. My advice if you are buying for a child you do not know very well is stick to gender specific toys.
Birth To One Year – Birth to one year like bright small toys they can hold and chew on. Toys that make noise or have music are always a hit. Melissa and Doug have great products for birth to teenagers. They believe in creativity and active play. Soft cover books, balls, activity stations or stuffed animals will hold a young toy player’s attention.
Fisher Price company has plush toys, music makers, sorting and rolling toys and walker toys. They are durable and bright in color. Fisher Price toys are available online and at local stores. Mini interactive toys are very popular for crawlers and walkers. Interactive toys encourage babies to use their fine motor skills while playing.
Little Tikes is another long-standing toy brand. Known for their plastic outdoor toys, Little Tikes also dabble in interactive toys for crawlers and walkers. Jungle, animal, sea creatures toy themes can be found in baby gear, walking toys and outdoor toys. Soft toys are available for six months and under.
Twelve To Twenty-Four Months – Walkers fit in the 12-24 month age group. Toys that offer sound and interaction are very popular. Stacking toys, shape sorter and push toys are very popular. Gender separation can be seen with many toys. Push cars and blocks show boys playing on the packages. Soft purses with lipstick and phones are pink and girls are on the package playing with the contents. Some parents do not gender separate. Parents allow little boys to play with purses and dolls and girls play with the blocks or cars. Unlimited play is the best way for young children to explore.
Two To Three Years – Toys for this age group are more complicated and have small moving parts. Small parts can be an issue with children who still put objects in their mouth.
Kitchen play, construction play, puzzles, drawing, trains and outdoor toys are popular with all kids. Kitchen play is popular with both boys and girls. All kids like to pretend to cook.
Water/Sand tables are great for outdoor play or even indoor play. Hours of creative play make happy children. Electronic toys are popular for this age group. Electronic toys like Leap Frog, tablets or electronic books do not encourage creative play. Staring at a screen can damage young eyes as well. Limit this play. Toy instruments are loud and this age group loves to explore their musical talent!
Three To four – Many of the toys for the 2-3 year range fit here as well. Four year olds tend to prefer gender specific toys. Boys want cars, trucks, trains or building toys. Girls want baby dolls, dollhouses, kitchens, stuffed animals or accessories for them all. Boys and girls like games, puzzles, art supplies and outdoor toys. Little Tikes outdoor playhouses are popular with all children. Ball pits and riding toys create active play for this group.
Five and beyond – Five year olds know what they want and they can visualize it very well. Boys want dinosaurs, trains, cars, Star Wars, wrestling toys, super hero toys and Legos. Girls want the dolls, dollhouses, stuffed animals, cooking toys, dress up, and Legos.
Gender division is really seen starting at this age. Be aware that some children play with both gender of toys. Boys and girls like the games, art supplies, outdoor riding toys, swings, slides, puzzles and electronic toys.
The Key – Gift selection for children can be tricky. Talk to the parents for guidance on toy selection if at all possible. If speaking to the parents is not an option it is best to stick to gender and age group on packaging. Toy guides put out by toy companies are useful and handy. Don’t shy away from buying a toy for a child.