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Quality not quantity

Toy story

Browse the toy store aisles and you'll find plenty of items to load into your buggy. But which toys are best for your child? Rachel Webb gives us helpful advice.

Plenty of choices

Retailers have provided parents with a wide variety of choices when it comes to purchasing toys.. It can often be confusing to know which ones parents should buy. Good toys should meet several criteria as outlined below:

Age appropriate

Focus on what your child needs to develop both physically and emotionally and look for toys that can help them grow in those areas. For example, a baby needs toys that can help with his reach and grasp, hand/eye coordination and stimulation. While toddlers need toys they can pack around with them, as they explore their surroundings.

Safety hazards

Avoid toys with small pieces that could be lost or swallowed. Toys need to be sturdy as well. Toys that break easily can be a unexpected safety hazard. Look at toys from a child's point of view, and anticipate how rough they might be on it. You should ask yourself what part could break first and why?

According to the National Safety Council, well over six million children are injured each year by accidents involving children's toys and other products.

Stimulate creativity

Look for toys that will not stifle a child's imagination. Often mechanical toys are entertaining, but take away a child's chance to participate. Avoid toys that will not teach or develop skills. The best toys let a child think or perform.

Cheap imitations

If you child has an interest in a hobby, avoid buying a cheap imitation of the real thing. Whenever possible save up money to buy the real thing. For example, will your child get more use out of a real sewing machine instead of the play one they want?

Would money be better spent on your budding artist by purchasing real beginning artist's brushes rather than a cheap watercolor set with hard to control blunt brushes. Often a bad purchase can discourage newly found talents when a child gets frustrated with the end result the product created.

Quality, not quantity

Children can become overwhelmed at gift-giving occasions to the point that they don't know what to play with or can't concentrate on one toy long enough to let their creativity bloom. It may not be due to the wrong kind of toys, but rather, too many toys!

Long-term exposure to excessive gifts can actually be harmful to children. As they grow older they could be learning that gifts and spending are the only important things worth seeking in life. If children become accustomed to receiving everything they want, they don't learn the value of earning or work ethics.

Giving our children gifts is not a bad thing, but when choosing appropriate toys remember the old saying--buy "quality not quantity."

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