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November 20, 2020 2 min read

There are so many toys out there, and juggling your child’s needs and wants – along with advertising and peer influences – can be tricky. But the best toys for kids aren’t always the fanciest – they’re the ones that stimulate your child’s imagination.

The best toys for kids

Toys can be a great way to kickstart your child’s play and support your child’s development. But your child might not need as many toys as you think.

The best toys for children are ‘open-ended’. These are the toys that your child can use in lots of different ways. They encourage your child to use her imagination, creativity and problem-solving skills.

Open-ended toys include:

  • blocks – one day your child uses them to build a tower, and the next day he might bring the block up to his ear and pretend it’s a phone
  • balls – they’re great to bounce, look at, roll, hold and throw
  • cardboard boxes – your child can pretend these are shop counters, ovens, cars, boats, doll houses and more
  • dress-ups – with some hand-me-down clothes and bits of fabric, your child can become anything or anyone he likes
  • crafty bits and pieces – coloured paper, stickers, crayons and washable markers can get your child started on a masterpiece.

You don’t always have to buy toys. Everyday household items like pots and pans, plastic containers, pegs, clothes baskets and blankets often make great open-ended toys. Just make sure that any household items your child plays with are safe, so avoid sharp objects or small objects that could cause your child to choke.

Choosing toys for kids

Many toys have age-range information on their packaging. This can be useful, but in terms of play, it’s only a guide. Your child’s interests and stage of development will probably give you a better idea of what to choose.

Age-range information can be important for safety, however – for example, when toys contain small parts that a baby could swallow. In these cases, it’s wise to follow the recommended age-range information.

For your baby, the best ‘toy’ is you, a caregiver or other close family member. Your baby will delight in watching your face, listening to your voice and simply being with you. Even play activities like looking at a brightly coloured mobile, listening to a wind-up musical toy and learning to reach for a rattle are more fun when you and your baby do them together.

Toddlers love to play with boxes, and often have more fun with the wrapping a present comes in than the present itself. Other good choices for toddlers include construction toys like building blocks (for example, Lego
®) and clothing for dress-ups. Toddlers also enjoy simple musical instruments that they can shake and bang – a drum made from an upside down pot and a wooden spoon can be just as much fun as a purpose-built toy.

Older children often like to solve problems and use their imagination. Puzzles or games that get your child playing with others are also good choices.