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One of my favorite things to do while discussing development is to make suggestions for toys to have at home, especially around birthdays and holidays. If your friends and family are asking you what to get the kids this holiday season, here are some good ideas that may even enhance development.

*Of note, this is intended to  give general ideas based upon the developmental appropriateness of a category of items and is not an endorsement of any product or an exhaustive list of options.

First and foremost, BOOKS!

At every age books are a great gift.  Babies should be read to starting at birth so for these little guys board books are great.  I loved reading Goodnight Moon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar to my own kids.  For toddlers, touch and feel books are always fun as they start to do more with their hands.  Picture books are great for preschoolers and as they get closer to school age, the first readers are a good choice.  By first grade, chapter books are good options.  Lots of kids enjoy the Magic Treehouse, Rainbow Magic, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson series.  Check out the Common Sense Media website (www.commonsensemedia.org) for age suggestions based on content and talk to your child’s teacher about suggestions based on your child’s reading level.

Toys!

All kids love toys.  From babies on up toys can serve as important learning tools.  By 4-6 months of age babies are grabbing at things and putting them into their mouths.  Good items for these babies are rattles, toy keys and teething toys.  For 9 month old babies, try stacking rings or stacking cups.  They also love to see their affect on their environment so toys that light up or make noise when touched are fun.  By 1 year toys that babies can push around as they learn to walk can get them on the move.  For toddlers try shape sorters, puzzles and building blocks.  Once they are around 18 months, toddlers love to imitate their parents so this is when a toy kitchen, toy cleaning set or baby doll is fun.  They will also start to play with toys properly, like pushing cars and trains around or playing doctor with a stuffed animal.  2 year old kids can really start to build with big Legos and train tracks.  Remember Lincoln Logs?  My kids loved these as well.  Don’t forget to stay away from small parts until age 3.

 

School aged kids

Once kids are 3-4 years their preferences become known.  Gifts can be geared towards the things they are interested in whether it is dolls, trains, dress up or gifts based upon a certain character.  They can also start board games like Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land.  Memory games, crafts and jigsaw puzzles are all fun and help a child’s development.  By the time kids are entering school, gifts can be more complex.  There are so many games and activities that get kids both moving and thinking.  Options can include sports gear (don’t forget helmets), musical instruments, brain teasers or puzzle books, group games like Spot It or Headbandz and more advanced board games.

A word about electronics

Electronics are here to stay so the best thing to do is embrace it but manage it appropriately.  The recommendation is no media for kids under 2 years of age and no more than 1 hour per day for young kids, 2 hours per day for older kids.  Many kids will be asking for a phone or tablet this holiday season so be prepared to make a decision.  As long as the content is monitored and the device is used in addition to chores, homework and physical activity, there can be some fun and educational benefit.  If your child already has a device they may ask for video games, movies or apps.  Again, check with Common Sense Media for good advice on age appropriate items.  Don’t forget that open and frequent communication with your child will help both of you make good choices.

Hopefully your children will get gifts that everyone can learn from and enjoy.  Happy holidays!

To read more from my blog, visit www.drjaimefriedman.com

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