How to choose the perfect gift for your child
Rule number one: don’t think like an adult
Most parents will tell you that their kid has too many toys – so when it comes to birthday and Christmas gifts, how do you choose the right one, without merely adding to the clutter? For a gift that truly stands out – and will stand the test of time – follow our advice.
Consider their age and level of development. First, check the label – most toys come with advice on age appropriateness. Second, use your own judgement. Just because your little one is four doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ready for a balance bike – think about the individual and go from there. And third, think about what materials the toys are made with. We’ve also put together a handy piece on appropriate
Think about the child. What do they love to do? Are they into the park, the pool, or heading outdoors generally? Do they love going to the museum or library? Are they obsessed with dinosaurs or superheroes? Think about a gift that could feed their interest.
Consider gifts children can share. Not literally, but gifts that kids can use to play with other kids (or even their families) like board games or puzzles. Again, these will be useful for years, and can help foster a healthy, fun sense of healthy competition for older children.
Remember that toys help kids learn. And often, toys are the primary way that kids learn. Choose toys that both foster creativity and free play, as well as ones that teach more “formal” skills like numeracy and literacy.
Check with the parents. If the gift is for someone else’s tot, check with the parents before buying. The child may already own the item, or the parents may have objections.
Choose gifts with a long lifespan. In our largely wasteful world, a toy that can be used for years is highly prized. Items like Lego, bikes and blackboards can be used for years and handed down to other children.
Remember safety. As much as possible, choose non-plastic toys made of sustainable materials, free of BPAs, phthalates, PVC or toxic chemicals and dyes.
If in doubt, buy a book. This is a rule we go back to again and again. Books take up very little space, have an infinite shelf life (pun intended) and can be handed down.
Here are some of our favorite toys to give as gifts.
- Brio My First Railway Beginner Pack: Made of 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council-certified beechwood, this toy train set is perfect for kids aged 18 months and over. As well as being great fun, the train set helps develop hand-eye coordination, and stimulates the imagination.
- The Little Yoga Mat: Got a budding yogi at home? Encourage their interest with this thick, soft yoga mat. Free of BPAs, PVC and latex, the mat can also be used as a play mat or for an outdoor picnic (or even for naps – handy when you’re travelling!). Available in two vibrant designs, this is a gift they’ll use for years.
- Korxx Brickle – Color: These blocks are made of soft cork, so if they fall on little fingers or toes, they won’t hurt – genius, right? In bright, vivid colors, the blocks encourage imaginative play as kids can build just about anything with them.
Hape – Magnetic All in One Easel: Paint, write, or draw with chalk, let your tot’s creativity reach new heights! This adjustable-height double-sided wooden easel has a place for everything. The finishes are all non-toxic, child safe and of the highest quality.
- Tegu 24 Piece Magnetic Wooden Block Set: If your tot loves to create, she’ll love this wooden block set that magically connects (well, with magnets!). Made of sustainably sourced Central American hardwood, and coated in a non-toxic lacquer, the blocks will spark creative play for many years.
Janod Toys – Round Observation Puzzle – Galloping Horses: This beautiful and fun puzzle keeps a young equestrian busy for hours! After building the 208-piece puzzle, featuring a very busy horse show, it becomes an observation game as they try to locate the objects in the border on the main image. Little ones can take the fun wherever they go as the puzzle comes in a stylish hat box with a handle.
- Hape Gourmet Kitchen: The Hape Gourmet Kitchen will help kids cook a variety of dishes with just a little imagination! Perfect for every little chef and baker, this kitchen features an oven, stovetop, sink, red knobs to turn the burners on and off, and a shelf to hold cooking utensils and ingredients. It encourages children to develop their creative thinking and fine motor skills while practicing basic cooking techniques. Made from wood sourced from environmentally sustainably sourced forests. The durable child-safe paint finish and solid wood construction make this a toy your child will love for years to come.
- Eco-Kids Eco Finger Paint: Show us a kid who doesn’t like to finger paint and we’ll show you a liar. Kidding! But seriously, who doesn’t love to finger paint? Encourage your budding artist with this paint set, made of all-natural ingredients for your peace of mind.