A Quick and Easy Guide
to Picking the Perfect Toy
Take a walk down the toy aisles at any store and you may be astounded at the number of toys there are for kids these days. While many retailers attempt to make the search easier by categorizing toys by theme, the number of choices can still be overwhelming, even to the most seasoned shopper. So before you make a beeline to the gift card kiosk to pick up that one-store-fits-all birthday present, here are some quick tips to help you find the perfect toy for every age range.
For the younger side of this age group, stick with plush toys, soft books and toys that stimulate the senses with sounds and bold patterns. Infants aren't able to hold toys on their own until after 3 months of age, but parents can shake toys in front of their baby to offer visual stimulation. Between 9-12 months, babies are able to pick up both large and small objects, so those blocks they were simply touching or looking at before can now become playthings.
At the beginning of this stage most babies are already crawling, "cruising" between pieces of furniture, and very close to taking their first steps (if they haven't already!) With that in mind, ideal toys for this busy group are anything that can be pushed, pulled or ridden. Children this age also have a growing attention span, so simple toys and games that offer repetitive activities and engaging sounds make good choices.
By age 2, children show stronger verbal skills, are able to point to things in a book, and can sort shapes and colors. Colorful books, shape sorters, simple puzzles and jumbo building blocks make wonderful gifts for the "terrific twos."
By age 3, a child's verbal skills have grown by leaps and bounds. Preschool-age kids are also more social and will likely enjoy playing with other children. Inspire their imagination and story-telling skills by supplying dress-up clothes and pretend-play costumes. Sand and water playsets, tool benches and kitchen sets also strengthen hand-eye coordination and encourage socialization.
Break out the karaoke machine and puppet theater because this age group loves to put on a show! School-age kids enjoy singing, dancing and acting, so purchase toys that encourage these budding divas and actors-in-training to ham it up. Durable microphones, wooden instruments and kid-friendly keyboards are all excellent choices for this age group.
Pre-teens are often very group- and club-oriented and are usually eager to join community and school activities with their friends. Try gifts they can use to create gifts that they can share with BFFs: craft kits, scrapbook sets and art supplies encourage creativity and can be done in groups, as well. Who knows, maybe during the holidays you can enlist a creative bunch of kids to help out with Christmas decorating in between making friendship bracelets and greeting cards.
Tweens and teens can be a mixed bag for gift-giving ideas. If a child is active in a particular sport or school club, choose a gift that suits his or her interests. Other easy gifts include journals, luggage or duffel bags, board games and video games. Kids this age are also beginning to show their budding personality and may like to pick out their own bedroom accents and home accessories to make them feel comfortable. This may be a good age to provide retail gift cards to kids who would truly like to express themselves in their surroundings.
When picking out the perfect toy, remember to keep it age-appropriate and safe, especially if there are children of different ages in the home. The Lakeside Collection has toys and games that will entertain kids of every age and interest. We hope this handy guide has helped put you on track to find the perfect gift for a special child in your life.