Playing helps children master new and sometimes complex skills. Some childhood toys emphasize simple play patterns while others stimulate a child’s dexterity, thinking, social skills, or educational development. Toys also help parents and children make memories through play. Choosing the right toy is easier than you think; it just takes a little time and research.
Select Toys That Build Skills
Remember the basics when choosing toys: Think about the exact age of the child, the child’s gender, the child’s personality, his or her current interests and skills, any special challenges that can affect a child’s physical limitations and play experience, and how he or she will use the toy. Children will become bored with toys that don’t challenge and stimulate them. Conversely, children who try unsuccessfully to play with toys that are too challenging might grow frustrated, disinterested, and upset.
With toys, children can interact with objects for their own amusement while working on cognitive and motor skills, which is especially important in very young children and kids with learning or physical challenges. However, no one toy will allow your child develop faster. Group toy choices by age and choose toys that focus on skills your child will understand.
- Toys for infants (birth – 12 months): Toys should expose a baby to a variety of experiences: sight, sound, touch (shape, size, texture), and taste (because many times, toys go into the mouth). Bright colors, lightweight toys such as rattles, and squishy toys encourage early grasping, holding, and exploring. Once a child is able to sit up, introduce large blocks, nesting cups, stacking rings, and toys that require reaching. For crawlers and early walkers, choose large balls and push-pull toys.
- Toys for toddlers (1-3 years): Focus on physical play. For outdoor play, choose ride-on toys, wagons, balls, and sandbox accessories. For indoor play, choose chunky blocks, large-piece puzzles, and toys that allow a child to use excess energy and develop emerging muscle control. At this stage, children like to imitate parents with play food, kitchen sets, housekeeping tools, ride-on cars, sport sets, baby strollers, and musical instruments. Also introduce board games that give children the chance to practice taking turns, communicating, and socializing. Plus, board games are fun for the whole family! Modify rules by eliminating time limits, enlarging pieces, or working in teams to make games less frustrating for children with short attention spans or motor difficulties.
- Toys for preschoolers (3-5 years): Preschoolers are fascinated with how and why things work. Construction sets, washable crayons andmarkers, paints, modeling clay, books, and simple board games encourage creativity. Introduce toys that inspire pretend play and allow children to imitate mom or dad to practice life skills. Examples include cash registers, toy telephones, make-believe town sets, doll houses, and furniture. Licensed toys with a recognizable character, whether animated or humanlike in the form of a television or movie character, are popular because children quickly identify with them; they want the toy with a personality. If you buy licensed character toys, keep in mind the personality. Is it something you approve of? Remember that your child is learning from this personality and might even mimic what it does. Balance the request with a book about the character or a different toy that encourages skill development. Communication skills can also be expanded through play. For children with language delays, repetition is a plus. Look for books that have repetitive phrases or toys that continually repeat concepts and directions.
- Toys for school-age children (5-9 years): Encourage children to share. Introduce toys that teach both team play and independence. Also consider toys that boost self esteem and allow children to use their personality and skills. Hobby sets, sports toys, computer software, problem-solving math toys, construction sets with detailed elements, and storybooks with valuable messages all make good choices.Games and electronic toys are also available that teach specific skills such as counting, matching, and problem solving. Electronic toysfeaturing a variety of lights, sounds, and music are usually a good choice for teaching cause and effect.
- Toys for preteens (9-12 years): Acceptance from friends and self-esteem are very important preteens. Kids in this age group often become less interested in toys. Look for complex construction toys, board games, strategic puzzles, science toys, and activity kits to engage them. Preteens can also refine social and intellectual skills with board games, electronic games, and card games. Active and physical play should be an area of focus through team and group sports.
- Toys for children with special needs: When choosing toys for children with special needs, keep in mind that specifically designed or modified toys are not always necessary. For all children, toys are only props used in play, and the process of play itself is valuable for development of physical, cognitive, social, and emotional skills.
If choosing battery-operated toys, be sure to buy extra sets of batteries for continued play. When buying large toys as gifts, be considerate of the amount of space in the recipient’s house. You don’t want to buy a huge ride-on toy for a child who dwells in a small apartment or for a child who lives in a suburb without sidewalks. Also, many toys require assembly so be sure you have the right tools to avoid disappointment.
Discover Toys That Complement the Classroom
Toys that have learning value and encourage student participation can greatly enhance the classroom curriculum. For example:
- Math: Building toys such as construction blocks and sand toys and water toys that demonstrate volume and density.
- Reading: Books and board games that use instructional cards.
- Writing: Phonics toys and erasable writing toys.
- Spelling: Board games with letter pieces.
- Geography: Map puzzles and globes.
- History: Trivia games.
- Art: Coloring toys, model kits, craft kits, and finger paint.
- Music: Karaoke machines, musical instruments, and sing-along books.
- Science: Chemistry sets, advanced building sets, telescopes, microscopes, and rock tumblers.
- Foreign language: Phonics toys that promote proper enunciation and help improve diction.
Prioritize Toy Safety
Safety first! Review all safety information before allowing your child to play with any toy. Toys must be age appropriate. Keeping toy safety in mind is extremely important, especially when children of different ages live in the house. A few simple measures can help you select safe and appropriate toys for the children in your life.
Make sure a toy does not have a cord or pull string long enough to wrap around a young one’s neck.
Packaging should not have sharp corners or wire ties.
What is appropriate for one child can be dangerous for another. Small parts measuring less than 3 inches by three inches pose a choking hazard for children 4 years old and younger. Keep such pieces out of reach. Remind older children to keep their playthings, especially those containing small pieces, away from younger siblings (and their playmates).
Battery-operated toys should house batteries in a tight, secure compartment. Battery compartments that require a small screwdriver to open and close are safest. Keep this tool out of reach of children under the age of 12.
Talking devices in interactive toys should be securely enclosed. Zippers are acceptable.
If you think a toy might be dangerous, contact The US Consumer Product Safety Commission immediately.
Find Kids Toys on eBay
Once you know what type of Kids Toys you want, go to the Toys & Hobbies portal and start searching for items on eBay.
- Categories: The primary Toys & Hobbies Categories list will help you narrow down toy item listings by subcategory. You’ll find links for Action Figures, Building Toys, Educational, Pretend Play, Preschool, Stuffed Animals, and more. As you dig deeper into the site you’ll also be able to narrow down your choice by brand or more specific subcategories.
- Keyword search: Search eBay listing titles for specific words. For example, if you want to find kids’ musical instruments, type “kids musical instruments” (without quotation marks) into the Search box. Click “Search title and description” to expand your results. Visit eBay’s Search Tips page for more tips on searching with keywords.
If you can’t find exactly what you want, try shopping eBay Stores, tell the eBay Community what you want by creating a post on Want It Now, orsave a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a match becomes available.
eBay Toy Finder can also help you find hot and award-winning toys appropriate for kids of any age.
Buy Kids Toys With Confidence
Before making your purchase, make sure you know exactly what you’re buying, research your seller, and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.
Know your purchase
Carefully read the details in item listings.
Figure delivery costs into your final price. If you spend a lot of money, make sure the seller will insure the item when it ships.
If you want more information, ask by clicking the “Ask seller a question” link under the seller’s profile.
Always make sure to complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy It Now, or Best Offer). Transactions conducted outside of eBay are not covered by eBay protection programs.
Never pay for your eBay item using instant cash wire transfer services through Western Union or MoneyGram. These payment methods are unsafe when paying someone you do not know.
Know your seller
Research your seller so you feel positive and secure about every transaction.
What is the seller’s Feedback rating? How many transactions have they completed? What percentage of positive responses do they have?
What do buyers say in their Feedback? Did the seller receive praise?
Most top eBay sellers operate like retail stores and have return policies. Do they offer a money-back guarantee? What are the terms and conditions?