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A Guide to Buying Children's Toys

Buying toys for children can be a daunting prospect, whether it's for your own kids or for someone else's. Like it or not, you are faced with choosing something that can be valued for a long time, something that's ''cool" and something that provides safe and engaging play from a plethora of offers arduously promoted on television, in catalogues and in kids magazines, sometimes with questionable consequences. Every parent has to do daily battle with the war cry "I want." whenever an item that is coveted by a child appears on the screen in front of him or her, especially if it's an item that has substantial peer value. Yet, after shelling out what in this day and age may feel like a king's ransom, that same valued trinket can be found laying in the dust, unwanted, within a remarkably short time.

Toys & Games So, how do you ensure your investment is wise? How can you make a quality choice? You can start by searching for toys at where you will find a wide range of excellent choices for children of all ages and taste. is one way to keep abreast of a market that moves very quickly.

Buying a child a toy however is not only about filling the void of their immediate "I want." Much of the decision involves the values that the buyer ? the giver ? wants to impart in making that choice.

Include your own values

From the youngest of ages, toys are what children learn from. It is in play where children learn many of the values we adults want them to carry forward into their future relationships. Play is what helps teach them that others have feelings, that sharing is a necessary human condition, that possession and ownership are rights and responsibilities. If we want our children to value our own contributions to the communities in which we live, we will more likely try to impart similar values through the choices we make for them. This is reflected through choices in educational toys, outdoor play, music, sport, fashion and many other pursuits.

A toy bought by a special relative or friend can often be regarded more highly by a child than other toys simply because of the meaning of the relationship: the toy representing that relationship in times of absence for example. Much loved toys often have special meaning attached to them, not because of the value of the toy itself, but because of its origins.

In sharp contrast, many toys purchased on the whim of the war cry "I want." are done so with the primary intention of bringing peace to the household and involve little of the purchaser's personal values in the actual choice. Sometimes this can lead the child to continue demanding that his or her needs are met with material acquisitions based on selfish desires, resulting in 'spoiling'.

Educational toys

While toys are for fun and play, they also help children in their educational, social, emotional, and physical development. As they become engaged with objects for their own amusement, they are also working on cognitive and motor skills, both important developmental processes in very young children and kids with some learning or physical challenges. As educational resources, toys that present challenges to children frequently stimulate their ability to reason.

Parents and other adults can get involved in playing with their children's toys too. These activities help babies exchange contact with others and builds their language skills. When adults interact with babies and their toys, they are helping babies learn that the toys exist even when they are not seen or heard. This helps in their development into play with their peers in pre-school, helping them understand rules of play and a sense of right and wrong. In play, toys empower children, permitting them to control their environment temporarily and make decisions independently of adults.

There are a number of ways to make choices in educational toys for children. A first step might be to consider their development at playschool, pre-school or school, and make choices that help in the child's development in that environment. Another consideration is to consider where the child's personal interest's lie and look in that interest area. Building toys, construction models, and sand and water toys can foster an interest in mathematics through volumes and measures. Books and board games that employ instructional cards can further an interest in reading and language. Writing and art interests can be developed with phonics toys, erasible writing products, colouring toys and model kits, craft kits and different painting mediums. Environmental, engineering and science interests can be met with trivia games, maps and puzzles, chemistry sets, telescopes, microscopes and advanced building sets. Music choices encompass karaoke, musical instruments and sing-along products, as well as music players.

Search for educational toys in different categories and different price ranges for children of different age ranges.

Gaming and outdoor play

Clearly one of the most rapidly developing trends in toys, is that of computer and electronic gaming, which includes software purchases for desktop or laptop computers, Play station and X-Box gaming consoles and portable gaming products. These options provide a great many variables, with a huge number of titles available in each of the formats.

While computer gaming can be enormously engaging for children of all ages, its basic nature can frequently play against the idea of open sharing, as the computer gaming environment is often very private, and single-player oriented. This can develop into sibling squabbles and selfish behaviour on the part of the game owner. If you are considering buying electronic gaming as a gift for a child who is not your own child, it would be wise and prudent to clear the purchase with the parents first, as not all parents are comfortable with their children having these products.

A large part of children's play also ties in with having happy and healthy kids. Exercise is a widely recognised component of health, and is reported in much of the media as a declining activity in kids, contributing to an obesity problem in modern society. To foster regular exercise, it is important to promote outdoor play with children and this can be achieved with the choices of toy purchases. Many sporting activities evolve from toy purchases, and can include any number of ball games ranging from any of the football codes, basketball, netball, cricket, hockey, baseball and so on.

Other toys that encourage outdoor activity might include transport toys such as bikes and scooters, skates and skateboards, mechanically propelled cars and carts; athletic activities such as swings and slides; sand toys and water activities.

Safety first

Regardless of your relationship with the child for whom you are purchasing a toy, safety is an issue of paramount importance. It's imperative to review all of the safety information published with the toy's instructional literature. If the toy looks unsafe and there is no published literature about its operation, it would be wise to avoid that particular purchase. Danger lurks in the oddest of corners. The most common consideration of toy safety includes strings or cords that could wrap around a young child's neck, packaging with sharp corners or protruding wire ties. Very young children often put what may be interesting objects to them in their mouths. Small components can pose chocking hazards, as can plastic bags large enough to be placed over a head. Battery compartments should be secured with a screw, providing a safely locked housing.

Equally important with removing hazards that may be present, is the need to educate children on how to use toys safely when playing alone or with others. While it is important that kids should not be endangered, it is also important that they learn how to assess a risk and take steps to eliminate or minimise risks at the earliest of age?both to themselves and to others.

Age and Gender

One of the primary considerations for toy shopping is how to chose a toy that is suitable for a girl or boy, at a particular age. Most toy manufacturers discriminate by both gender and age in the advice they give for their toys. lists toys under these descriptions. However, these guides are given as advice only, and may not necessarily reflect the readiness of your child for a particular product, or the ability of a particular product to satisfy your child's current needs. Please search for a wide selection of toys, and to help you with your choices.

About the Author: Andrew Gates is a writer for comparison online shopping site helps you compare kids toys and buy online from top-rated online stores. You can also read toys reviews and specifications.

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