The best toys stimulate your child's imagination, encourage thinking skills and foster creativity. Children flourish with a combination of toys that foster development in different areas, including dolls and action figures, which encourage imagination, exercise and riding toys, which foster motor skills, and electronic toys, which develop digital literacy. It's also good to have a few travel toys, which can be easily brought along on trips.
Different toys are appropriate for different age groups. For infants (6 – 12 months), choose toys that feature bright colors, interesting textures and fun sounds and are free of small loose parts. For toddlers (1 – 3 years), choose bikes and riding toys, balls, puzzles and large blocks. Preschoolers (3 – 5 years) are interested building and creating, so construction sets and arts and crafts toys make good choices. They also like imaginary play, so consider play kitchens, dolls and dollhouses. School-age children (5 – 9 years) often enjoy board games, sports toys and electronic toys, including learning toys. For preteens (9 – 12 years), board games, electronics, card games and sports games are appropriate.
The most important aspect of a toy is that it appeals to your child, so let your child participate in picking out their next toy or game. And for more tips on choosing toys, check out our Toy Buying Guide.