Parent's Resource Center


Dr. Toy's Tips on Selecting Children's Products

Source:  Dr. Toy

As you examine any potential children's product, before you purchase it, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Is the product appropriate now? Does the product fit the child's age, skills and abilities? Will it hold the child's interests?
  2. Is the toy/product well-designed? Is it safe? Are there any potential hazards such as sharp edges, parts that can be swallowed, or loose ties? Is it non-toxic? Does it meet Consumer Product Safety Standards? How durable is it? Will it take rough treatment? Is there a guarantee on the product?
  3. Is the toy or product appealing? Is it something the child will enjoy using for a long time? Does it have long lasting play value? Does it have versatility?
  4. Does the toy offer an opportunity to stimulate creativity? The right products in arts, crafts, hobbies, language, reading, music, movement and drama can help to expand the child's imagination, thinking and comprehension.
  5. Does the toy match the package and the package match the toy? If the toy does not match ads or package it can be disappointing. Is age grading clear?
  6. Will the product teach? Does it help expand positive self-esteem, values, understanding, cultural awareness, Does it help encourage the growth of self-esteem, values, or cultural values offer practice in skills, eye hand coordination, or fine and large motor skills? Does the product help teach communication skills? Does it expand understanding of the environment, the community, and world? Does it teach or practice computer skills?
  7. Is the toy affordable? Does the price match the value received?
  8. Will the product frustrate or challenge the child? Does the product offer an opportunity to think, learn something new , practice or try something that will be beneficial? Or will it be too difficult for the child to use. However, the product may be perfect for doing an activity, a construction project, a craft, hobby, or playing a game. Having fun together as a family is an important part of the child's play experiences.
  9. Will the toy help to nurture childhood? Can the child use the product by themselves? Will it help them gain independent skills? Does the product help the child express emotions, experience care and concern for others, practice positive social interaction? Is there any violence, sexism or negative aspect to the product?
  10. Is the toy fun? Most importantly will the child enjoy using the product? Will it make him or her laugh? Relax? Feel good? Play is after all a time to have fun. Learning is a lot easier and is more enduring if it's fun!

Think about these points:

  1. What does your child need now and what is he or she ready to play with?
  2. The right toy/product at the right price for the right reason will help make your child realize more joy, wonder, and learning.
  3. Give your child a chance to tell you about the toys and products on their wish list.
  4. Consider one of those fantasy products the child wants, even if you think its silly. The child is only this age once. Even if we don't agree about their choices, they need to learn to be responsible for decisions they make as consumers. They are influenced a lot by what their friends are playing with and by what they see on television.
  5. Make a point of examining the toys and products included on Dr. Toy's extensive list of great new award winning products. Each one has extra value of activity, creativity, or education built in and your child will benefit.

A Note from PRC:

It has been my experience that the most unexpected "articles" can be the most priceless toys.  My sons have given Tupperware a beating it will never forget.  Things often found around the house can be your child's best "toy".  Keep that in mind this Holiday season when you are shopping for toys and your checkbook is weeping.......


Age Appropriate Gifts

Best for baby (newborn to 6 months): Toys for gazing at, such as mobiles, musical toys, unbreakable crib mirrors and easy-to-grab soft fabric toys with varying sounds, textures and bright colors.

Sitting up and crawling babies (6 months to 1 year): Soft rattles and teething toys with different sounds and textures, chime balls that respond with a touch, cloth blocks and balls, washable velour or terrycloth dolls and animals with easy-to-grab limbs and stitched features, cloth or sturdy cardboard books, containers with chunky blocks for filling and dumping and easy-to-activate rolling toys.

Toys for toddlers (1 and 2): Push toys, pull toys, low-to-the-ground straddle and ride toys, big huggables, big lightweight balls, wagons for filling and dumping, big plastic blocks, toys with dials, buttons, doors and other manipulatives that make things happen, simple puzzles, props for pretend play like a phone, housekeeping tools, table and chairs, simple art supplies and sturdy picture books.

Perfect for preschoolers (3 and 4): Props for pretend, transportation toys, first pedal toys, kitchens, dolls, puppets, dress-up clothes, small settings with animals, vehicles, wooden and plastic blocks and trains, washable art materials, matching games, puzzles, picture books, tape player, music, story tape, software, sand and water toys.

For the big kids (5 to 10): Two-wheeler bikes with training wheels, sports equipment, elaborate dolls with accessories, zany collectible soft animals, puppets, craft kits, art materials, musical instruments, tape/CD players and radios, more elaborate construction sets, learning machines, games, puzzles, storybooks and first chapter books. (See more ideas below.)

Toys for teens: Grown-up toys such as sporting goods, advanced craft kits, camera, telescope, microscope, musical instrument, CD players and computers, software, board games and books. (See more ideas below.)

Choosing Your Grade School Child's Toys

Six To Nine Years

Board games, tabletop sports games and classics like marbles and model or craft kits help develop skills for social and solitary play. In experimenting with different kinds of grown-up worlds, fashion and career dolls and all kinds of action figures appeal to girls and boys. Printing sets, science and craft kits, electric trains, racing cars, construction sets and hobby equipment are important to children for examining and experimenting with the world around them.

For active physical play, a larger bicycle, ice and roller skates, a pogo stick, scooter sled and other sports equipment, along with protective gear, are appropriate. Even though group play is enjoyed, children at this stage also play well by themselves. Paints, crayons, and clay are still good selections, as are costumes, doll houses, play villages, miniature figures and vehicles, all of which help children with their imaginations and creativity.

Many games and electronic toys geared to children in this age group are labeled "educational" because they have been designed to help children learn specific skills and concepts, such as games which require forming words, matching letters of the alphabet with various objects or learning about money through handling play coins and currency.

Video games appeal to children, teenagers and adults. Many games offer increasingly challenging levels of play, as well as opportunities to develop coordination skills and a sense of the meaning of strategies in relationships, usually through competition against an opponent.

Some Toy Suggestions

  • Board games
  • Sports equipment
  • Model and craft kits
  • Science kits
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Construction toys
  • Fashion and career dolls
  • Doll house
  • Action and hero figures
  • Puppets, marionettes and theaters
  • Video games
  • Bicycle and helmet
  • Stilts, pogo stick
  • Magic set
  • Roller and ice skates plus protective gear
  • Tape player\radio
  • Books

Nine to Twelve Years

Children begin to develop specific skills and life-long interests at this age. Give considerable attention to hobbies and crafts, model kits, magic sets, advanced construction sets, chemistry and science kits and puzzles. Peer acceptance is very important at this age. Active physical play now finds its expression with team play in a variety of sports. Social and intellectual skills are refined through board, card and electronic games, particularly those requiring strategy decisions.

Video and electronic games, table tennis and billiards (pool) are very popular at this stage. Dramatic play holds great appeal. Youngsters in this age group like to plan complete productions including props, costumes, printed programs puppets and marionettes. Painting, sculpting, ceramics and other forms of artistic expression continue to be of interest, as do books, tapes and musical instruments.

Some Toy Suggestions

  • Card and board games
  • Sports equipment
  • Table tennis and billiards
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Model kits
  • Science kits
  • Microscope, telescope and magnifying glass
  • Craft and hand work kits
  • Art supplies
  • Advanced construction sets
  • Puppets, marionettes and theaters
  • Video games
  • Bicycle and helmet
  • Stilts, pogo stick
  • Magic set
  • Roller and ice skates plus protective gear
  • Tape player\radio
  • Books

For an article on should Kids get into Astronomy click here