Have you ever seen the movie “Big” with Tom Hanks. The one where he becomes a grown-up over night and gets this really awesome job as a toy tester/ toy creator. That is one of my many dream jobs, after all I am a self proclaimed “toy expert”. I’ve been waiting for my opportunity to talk about toys and now it’s here…. THE HOLIDAYS!!!
I honestly love looking at the design of toys, evaluating them and most of all seeing how children interact with them. But besides being “self proclaimed” , I actually do have a little resume in the toy expert department. As I put this list together trust me when I say I put a lot of thought and effort into it. As silly as it may sound toys have been a big passion of mine for a long time.
My “toy expert qualifications” (you do want my resume right?)
- I’ve worked in the Early Childhood field for over 15 years now. Selecting and Ordering developmentally appropriate, safe, and fun toys for children is a must know.
- I studied toys is college. No, I didn’t take a class titled Toys 101 but when you earn a degree in Early Childhood Education a large part of your course work is actually devoted to studying toys, making handmade toys, inspecting toys and more.
- I am a toy inspector. Seriously, one of our main responsibilities in Child Care management was to insure that toys withstood the abuse of many children, were removed when damaged, were not over stimulating and added to the learning environment.
Do I have you convinced yet that I am a toy expert now? If so you’ll find this post informative, if not then at least you can see some really great toys! Keep in mind these are toys I am suggesting for your home some may not be appropriate for your child care center.
My Favorite Toy Brands
- Fisher Price
- B. Toys
- Melissa and Doug
This list is very short but these are my tried and true favorite brands. I have owned toys from all of these brands and they are not only designed well, they get points in all critique categories: learning, creativity, safety, and longevity.
Favorite Toys for Infants
Tips for buying toys for Infants
Young infants do not play with toys however they still need them. Choosing toys that are stimulating but not over stimulating is an important part of toy selection for infants. I try to avoid loud flashing battery operated toys as much as possible.
- Infants enjoy soft soothing music like the Fisher Price Seahorse and Crib Soother.
- Infants like to study things with their eyes and develop their focus. The mirror by Sassy and the Play Gym by Skip hop are great toys for a young infant to gaze upon.
- Infants explore almost everything with their mouth. They also teeth within the first year. The Sophie teether is a great teether for infants. The key set by B. toys realistic but still safe. It’s large enough for a young infant to explore. If the sounds are too much or too loud don’t ever be afraid to just take the batteries out. The infant will love it just the same.
- Early exposure to print, books and literature is key to developing a life long reader. Plastic books and cloth books are great for young infants, remember to be mindful of loose parts and remove them if loose or unsafe.
Favorite Toys for Toddlers and Twos
Tips for Buying toys for Toddlers and Twos
- Now that your child is toddling around he/she will start exploring everything with their hands, mouth, feet, eyes, ears and more. The number tip for toy buying during this stage is safety and durability.
- Tods and Twos are just learning to walk, run, jump etc. However, their fine motor skills are also developing. It’s very important to buy toys that are easy for your child’s small muscles to develop but don’t cause frustration. Light weight but chunky toys are great for young children that are still developing those finger muscles. The cars featured above by B. toys can be purchased at Target they are chunky, light and are so much fun with the pull/back and release feature.
- Toys for this age are now focused on manipulation and problem solving. Remember play is your child’s work, it’s how they learn and toys are important tools. Choosing toys that have a purpose and allow young children to explore their senses or complete tasks such as puzzles are great for developing cognitive skills.
- Books, Books Books! Toddlers and twos are still rough, clumsy and mouthers. Board books are the best choice for this age group. We love the texture books by DK publisher which can be at Barnes and Noble.
Thanks so much for indulging me as the “self proclaimed” toy expert. I will work on a list for ages 3 and up as well. All featured toys can be found all over the internet and in most stores. If you need help finding a toy pictured above please let me know.
(I was not compensated for any of my opinions, all of these reviews are based upon my own experience with these products, this is not an affiliate related post.)