Playtime is an important part of a child’s development and every new parent wants to make sure that their little one has all sorts of toys. Not all games, dolls and puzzles are created equally, however. Bangkok Hospital Siriroj’s Children’s Clinic shared these insights on how to pick the right ones for your child.
1. Keep smartphones, tablets and laptops away from very small children or severely limit usage. Human beings of all ages are naturally transfixed by the constant stream of stimulation that appears on a screen. We’re still learning about the damaging effects that this may have on adult brains, but researchers are already especially alarmed about what it may do to children during a critical period in their mental development. This is a time when your child should be actively engaging with the world around them; by overexposing them to these technological devices, you risk shortening their attention span and learning capabilities. Switch the devices off and spend some time playing with them instead.
2. Offer toys that encourage active play and creative problem solving. Play is an important part of development in children. It’s a time when they learn to think critically and problem solve. Whether it’s building blocks for toddlers or more sophisticated puzzles for older kids, try to find toys that make your children use their growing brains.
3. Watch out for Legos, puzzles, and other toys with small pieces. While these toys are great for slightly older children, they present a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. Keep very young kids away from anything that they might potentially be able to swallow by accident.
4. Choose sturdy toys for young children. Babies use all of their senses to explore the world around them, which often includes their mouths. This means that you don’t want to give a baby or toddler anything that might break when they chew on it, as this could result in plastic shards or pieces getting caught in their throat. High-quality stuffed animals or durable blocks, balls and other objects without sharp edges are a good choice.
5. Be aware of the message that each toy may be sending. Think about what each toy is telling your child and what they might internalise from playing with it. You can consider checking the guidance on the label or package for age advice.