Few things are more delightful than watching a child’s eyes light up when she gets a new toy. And with the right toys, playtime is more than just fun. They can inspire your child’s imagination and help her develop skills. To keep the good times going, make sure your child has a variety of things to play with, inside and outdoors. Action figures, dolls, and dollhouses allow children to create imaginary worlds that they’re in charge of. Play sets -- little kitchens, kid-sized workbenches, and train sets -- are some of the best settings for kids to let their imaginations run wild. Outdoor toys give your child the chance to get outside and get moving. Ride-ons, bikes, skates, and skateboards are all fun ways to get some exercise and play with friends. Before you buy any toys and games, make sure to consider your child’s age and development. Also consider her current interests; she may have loved baby dolls a few months ago, but if she’s into pretend food now, that’s the only toy that will do. Kids can grow fast, so look for toys on sale when you’re shopping online. That way, it’s more affordable to keep up with their changing hobbies.
Outdoor play is so much more than just a way for kids to spend an afternoon. Sunshine, fresh air, and exercise: These are the real gifts you give your children when you buy them outdoor toys. To choose the best toys for outside, you’ll want to consider your children’s ages, the way they like to get exercise, and what the other kids in the neighborhood like to do, so they’ll have lots of fun with their friends. Playing with friends outside is one of best parts of being a kid, but some gear will make it even more fun. A swing set may be a bit of an investment, but it’s something your family will get years of use from. A trampoline is another fun way for kids to play together, and new safety features, like side enclosures, make them better than ever. If your backyard is often the place for summertime parties, you may want to look into buying a bounce house. And when the snow starts to fall, you won’t have to move playtime inside if you have winter toys. A snow sled will help your kids enjoy the coldest season. A simple plastic saucer may be all you want, or you can shop for a traditional wooden sled. A snowman kit takes the classic winter pastime to a new level of entertainment.
Board games, puzzles, and other games range from simple to cerebral. Here’s what to look for when you’re shopping. Classic board games are perfect for family game night. Keep a few different games on hand, so you can mix it up from time to time. You’ll want to check the recommended ages on games and choose the right one for your family. Not all games are for kids, and this is especially true for board games. Strategy games are usually much too complicated for young minds, but they’re perfect for teasing your brain. Of course, some little kids love learning how to play chess, so you’ll have to consider your child’s skills. You may also want to shop for games that are great for parties. Dartboards, charades-style games, and quiz games that can be played in teams are all excellent for getting a group talking and laughing while they compete. The number of pieces is a good indication of how complicated the puzzle is. Puzzles can be simple wooden sets with only a few pieces -- which very young children spend hours working on. As children get older, they can handle more pieces. If you’re looking for a puzzle that will challenge your mind, look for something with 1000 or more pieces. You may also like the challenge of a 3-D puzzle.
Height, skill level, and terrain are all important factors when you’re shopping for bikes, ride-ons, and scooters. Once kids are about 18 months old, they’re ready for ride-ons. Before they’re ready for pedals, shop for balance bikes that let them just push with their feet. This will help them learn about balance safely. Pedal cars and battery operated riding toys look like small cars or motorcycles, and they’ll let your child get around in style. Tricycles with handles let you control the direction while kids test out using pedals; often, the handle is removable, so the trike can grow with them. As kids get to be older, they’re ready for bicycles. You’ll want to get your child’s height before you buy a bike. Look for adjustable seats, so they won’t grow out of it too quickly. Don’t forget the safety equipment! You’ll want to buy a bike helmet that adjusts to fit snugly on your child’s head. Bikes and trikes aren’t the only things on wheels. There are push scooters and electric scooters; these are kind of like skateboards with a handlebar. Roller skates are another classic way for kids to get around; shop for these by shoe size, and don’t forget to pick up knee pads and elbow pads.