Choosing the right toy for a child can be a real challenge for parents. The toy producers make it even more difficult, as they offer a huge variety of toy models. The most popular are the gadgets made of plastic, but the wooden toys are becoming more and more common. How to choose a toy that will not only provide a lot of fun but will also develop the child’s skills and senses? What types of gadgets are available? How to make sure that a toy is safe? In this article, we answer all of these questions.

The types of toys for little children

The answer to this question should be very long just in order to explain all the toy models. However, it wouldn’t make any sense, as we would bore you straight away. Today, we will focus more on toys functionality and their impact on child development but also on the materials used to their manufacturing and which are the best choice. We are aware that no matter how many categories we would include, it will never be enough.

From the very beginning of a child’s life, all parents want to spoil it. Usually, choosing the toys that are not adequate for the age of a child. Also, some time ago, it was said that the children were choosing their toys, nowadays, it is opposite. There is some truth in this statement because it can be clearly seen that kids lost their moderation. They want all the toys as soon as possible. What’s also important, for children, there are no toy categories. Once they see some model attractive, they want to have it in their collection.  

Parents often are in thrall to such situations, explaining that they don’t want to forbid anything. Obviously, this is the wrong approach. This is the easiest way to spoil a child and to show it that without any effort it can get whatever it wants, and when required – it will force a parent’s decision with tears. Here, it is clearly visible how important is the parents’ role, who are responsible for the right emotional development. We have to know to show our children that there are different toy categories and not all of them have to be in their room.

Kids also can be categorized. Underactive, who can focus on one thing at the moment and don’t want any other incentives to stimulate them. For these children, a perfect toy will be an educational game from Fisher-Price or other company or a creative game that will have a positive impact on imagination and creativity development. Another amazing choice will be a DIY set. The possibilities are huge! Such children also like encyclopedias and puzzles. 

Overactive children are basically the ones that are full of energy. they need a lot of space to spend their energy, so the best amusement for them are going to be scooters, trampolines, or bikes. Puzzles or blocks don’t impress them enough, so they might get bored easily. Children who have manual skills and the ones that love to construct block buildings are keener to choose the interactive toys. There are unlimited possibilities but as parents, we must ensure that our children have access to various entertainment that will have a positive influence on the children’s development.

The categories of materials used in a toy production

Definitely the types of materials that toys are made of, can be categorized. Some time ago, blocks and other simple toys were made of wood. Surely, our parents remember those primitive constructions, built from blocks which didn’t differ by a form but were playing various roles. Nowadays, wooden toys don’t differ much from these which were the only available. Undoubtedly, they are still simple but functional. Due to the rising meaning of sustainability, many parents decide to such a category. In their opinion, this type of toys is better than the shiny, plastic ones, which don’t require much engagement from our children. Wooden toys are not only made in huge factories, but also in small family businesses. To paint them, only certified paints are used, which are fully safe and recommended to all age groups.

Plastic toys are currently the most popular type of gadgets for kids. Why? Their production is cheap, simple and in a short period, it is possible to flood the world’s market. In many parents’ eyes, plastic is just a shoddy material and this is because more and more often we see all kinds of fake products coming from the Asian market. If they were at least well copied, most of us wouldn’t care that much, however, the toys and games are ugly, badly-made and are hazardous to our children. Most often, harmful and not tested chemicals are used to their production. There’s nothing surprising that we hear news about the products that caused allergies, burns or other adverse reaction. Obviously, on the market, we can purchase interactive toys, made of plastic that are safe and high-quality, although to get them, we have to choose the well-known producers who meet the EU safety requirements.

Another worth to mention category is fabric toys. Most often these are teddy bears which are an essential part of every child’s room. All children use them as a cuddly toy to fall asleep, and usually, it’s their favourite friend. The fabric toys are also very durable. Definitely, in many houses, there are such antiques that survived more than a dozen years. While choosing a plush toy we must pay special attention to the stitches – they must be very strong, so a child won’t break them. Here, it is worth mentioning that the younger the child is, the more it wants to break toys apart. Moreover, the filling also must be safe in case of the successful breakage. Also, it is necessary to check the elements such as eyes and nose. The best are done with a flat stitch, not from plastic buttons, due to the risk of bitting out and swallowing. 

The last material category is carton and paper toys. Board games, puzzles, memos are the representants of such category. More and more often, houses for colouring and putting together can be seen on the toy shop shelves. They are a great idea because they can be used as a dollhouse or simply for playing. An advantage of such a toy is biodegradable and sustainable. 

Toy categories by their functionality

Board games or interactive and manual toys are the best alternatives to computer games and other electronic devices. Many parents take the easiest way out and give their children smartphones or tablets, unfortunately, this is not the best solution. Why? From the very beginning, a child learns how to co-work, compete and think analytically. In the same time, it is worth to teach a child that a time spent together isn’t a wasted time. Since a few years, board games constantly gain popularity because they are a great way for the whole family to play together. Moreover, the producers’ offer is so huge that there’s no chance for any game to not meet the safety and our child’s requirements. 

Puzzles and blocks are certainly the common classics. The blocks bring a lot of joy and they allow creating unique buildings. Maybe the interest in such toys will become a passion and in the future, the child will work as a building engineer. As it can be clearly seen, the Lego type plastic blocks are dominating, but more and more often there are also wooden toys that bring the parents’ memories from childhood. Their positive side is that a child can play with them on its own, as well as with parents and friends. The blocks have a beneficial impact on the development of manual skills, imagination and strategical thinking. On the other side, puzzles teach patience, that is often missing among the youngest. 

Plush toys and dolls shape the child’s world and teach social skills. This is why children talk to a beloved teddy bear friend about their problems and how was their day. Dolls usually are reserved for the female side but sometimes boys also play with them, while spending time with girls. Sometimes these toys are the obligatory friends of a child and their number is rising to the point that it’s possible to make a special party for them. 

What to pay attention to while buying child’s toys?

First of all, we should check the product functionality. A toy should educate and develop a child’s skills. Moreover, it should push it to have an active lifestyle and stimulate the child’s brain to rapt work. However, it’s not about the hi-tech toys that will do everything for a kid. An educational toy, puzzles or simple wooden blocks are going to be sufficient. No matter what’s the child’s sex, they will have a beneficial influence on the child’s development.

Adjusting toys to a child’s age is also vital. We can’t expect a one-year-old baby to do some advanced tasks, that it never had done before. If we won’t choose the right toys to the child’s age, it is clear that it will get boring soon and we will spend money on something unnecessary. However, safety is the most important factor. For us, parents a necessary skill is to know how to read the toy labels. No matter if a toy is educational, it must meet the strict EU standards. Unfortunately, Asian factories produce numerous gadgets that are flooding the Western market and some of them are neither safe, nor attested. What’s also shocking, some of them have fake certificates.

Every child toy should have at least one of the signs below:

  • CE – indicates that a toy meets the EU requirements. Should be on every product dedicated to the children below 14-years-old
  • EN71 – is a European standard that specifies safety requirements for toys. Compliance with the standard is legally required for all toys sold in the European Union.
  • TUV – is a certificate given by independent organizations. It ensures that the substances used in the production are fully safe.
  • IETP – is an independent, non-for-profit organization established to safeguard and improve ethical and sustainability standards in the global toy industry.
  • FSC – it is used for wooden toys and it indicates that the wood used in the production comes from the forests that are managed responsibly and environmentally appropriate.
  • Fair Trade –  is an arrangement designed to help producers in developing countries achieve sustainable and equitable trade relationships.
  • WE – ensures that a toy passed all the EU standards and requirements. The certificate can be given only by a notified body.
  • GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard – indicates that a toy was made of organic cotton and no harmful substances were used in farming.
  • PEFC – ensures that a toy was produced with the economic, environmental and social standards and it’s fully safe for children.

Let your child choosing a toy on its own

The older a child is, the more self-dependent it becomes. This is why it should have more freedom in a toy choice as it gets older. No matter if it’s an educational toy or a hi-tech robot. Our child knows very well what it wants, needs, and what it’s expecting from a gadget. Although, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have any influence on the child’s choice. From the first years of a child’s life, we should teach it how to choose wisely and not be indicated by an impulse or the fact that everyone has the same toy.

From our experience, we know that it is easier to say than make, but trust us – it is feasible. At this point, it will be a great solution to initiate the system of saving money for more precious gadgets. It’s worth trying to implement it while a child is young, as after some time it may turn out beneficial. We have to remember to not forbid everything, but on the other hand, we should tell the family to not overflood our child with presents. A way better idea will be to add something to its piggybank, than a purchase of something that will end up unused.