If I were the Queen of Everything, I would only buy the most cherished toys for my children. Every toy would be loved and played with. And probably, my kids wouldn’t whine either. But in the real world, it can be tricky to choose toys that will stand the test of time.
Here are four questions to help find your child’s next favorite toy.
1. Can you play with it more than one way?
The “play value” of an item is directly proportional to the creative things you can do with it. A baby chews, a toddler stacks, and a preschooler can create elaborate cities from a good set of blocks.
2. How much does it cost?
Though impossible, I like to make a ballpark estimate of the cost per use. If the play value is high, I feel better paying more for a toy. If a bigger toy purchase is worth it, they will use it many ways and days and it becomes a great value for the toy box, like this easel.
3. Is it age-appropriate?
Can she use it independently without breaking it or getting too frustrated? Are the pieces safe and sturdy for small children? I love to play with my little people but a toy for them should not require too much intervention from me.
4. What is my child most excited by right now?
Follow their lead on interests: vehicles, dolls, animals, cooking, or sports and then go with it. For two years, I ignored my toddler son’s pleas for a garbage truck. When I finally relented, he loved it best of all.
The other day, my older sons, now five and seven, rediscovered a box of building blocks and lost themselves in their old toddler toy, all while listening to songs from Music Together. In that moment, time stood still; they were doing the exact same thing four years earlier. I gave myself a parenting high five for choosing a good toy.