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Dear Santa Claus: Guidelines on how to choose the best toys this Christmas

blog proactive parenting to choose best toys christmas

We are nearing that special time of the year when children all around the world begin writing letters to Santa Claus with their Christmas wishes. It is also the time of year when parents begin to feel uncertain about which toys are appropriate for their children.

How to identify which Christmas toys are most suited to our children’s needs

A common question among parents is what are the best toys for their children. Parents want to protect, care for, and give happiness to their children. The best way to do this is to follow the natural development of the child. By focusing on the tasks that each child must develop to move to the next stage, parents can protect the natural evolution of their baby, care for their unique process of development, and give them toys that support that natural development without creating frustration because it is too advanced or interfere with the process.

By understanding what developmental tasks are important to children at each age, parents will be able to select the toys that are most appropriate to support happy and healthy development.

Guidelines to help choose appropriate toys for children of every age this Christmas

To help parents feel more secure in choosing gifts this holiday season, we have put together a list of guidelines to help select toys that are appropriate for the age and development of each child.

  • Young babies (0-6 months): Young babies enjoy toys that provide a sense of security, such as stuffed animals, soft dolls, or baby blankets. Additionally, play mats with hanging objects and bright colors help improve eye coordination and strength.
  • Older babies (6-12 months): Older babies will enjoy teething rings. Just before 6 months of age, babies will begin cutting their first teeth and teething rings provide comfort and help the new teeth erupt from the gums. Older babies also enjoy rattles that reward them with noise for their movements. Babies nearing 10 months can begin to play with blocks to improve control and coordination of their hands and arms.
  • New walkers (12-18 months): Letters to Santa for new walkers can begin to include touch books or books with pictures to help with language development and can be used as a quiet activity before bedtime. Additionally, new walkers love toys that help them be active and mobile, such as push cars or pull toys. Both types of toys help develop gross motor skills.
  • Early Toddlers (18-24 months): At this age, toddlers are very active to perfect their motor skills. For this reason, asking Santa for an activity table would ideal. Activity tables with lots of buttons, levers, and pulls helps to integrate sensory information and coordination. And, if we want to convert them into music lovers, another great option are musical CDs with simple melodies and lyrics to encourage careful listening and movement. Together music can help develop language and memory.
  • Late Toddlers (24-36 months): They say that children learn through imitation, and that is precisely what late toddlers do. Therefore, parents can select toys that help their children pretend to be like the adults (e.g. moms, dads, grandparents) to support this developmental task. Examples can include play kitchens, play workbenches, play medical bags, or play school supplies. Toys of this nature will be used daily by late toddlers.
  • Preschool (3-5 years): Playing make-believe and being creative is key for preschoolers. They love to play dress up and pretend being professionals (such as doctors, police, or ballet dancers) or play make-believe characters (such as the star of their favorite movie or cartoon series). Additionally, magic games (always adapted for this age group and avoiding small pieces) or imagination games are well suited for preschoolers. Books without pictures can be introduced at this age to help improve imagination and language. And, simple board games are a great gift from Santa because they allow preschoolers to begin learning fairness and sportsmanship.
  • School age (5-8 years): School age children need to learn how to share and work together with others. For this reason, we can encourage them to ask Santa for board games to help them learn to follow rules, play fair, be a good sport, and enjoy competition. Along this same line, having school age children ask for sports equipment is a great idea. Participating in physical activity also supports the previous concepts as well as developing healthy lifestyle habits. To support physical activity, school age children can ask Santa for specialized sport clothing or equipment to help them have a happy and active Christmas holiday. Books without pictures and art supplies are also great gifts for these active learners.

Parents can choose perfect presents for their children by balancing their children’s preferences with their developmental stage, needs, and abilities. By doing so, Christmas morning will be a joy for the whole family.

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Sunday, 22 April 2018

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