Toys are recommended for certain ages due to safety reasons. Toys with small parts pose a choking hazard to young children. Buying a toy that is meant for a younger age group will bore an older child. Toys meant for older children will frustrate a younger child. When buying a gift for children, choose age-appropriate toys.
Age-appropriate toys for children under one year of age are rattles, teething toys, and stuffed toys. Children this age are stimulated by toys that they can explore with their mouth. This means that the toys shouldn't have parts that can break off and cause them to choke. Verify that the stuffed toys don't have any embellishments, such as bows or googly eyes.
Children 12 to 18 months of age are stimulated by age-appropriate toys with knobs and dials they can turn. If the child is walking, push toys that make noise are a barrel of fun. Look for toys that open and close, twist and turn and push and pull. Children this age are entertained by toys they can manipulate. Again, choking is a risk at this age, so verify that all moving parts are firmly attached.
Toddlers, 18 to 24 months of age, are fascinated with shapes and colors. Age-appropriate toys for toddlers include blocks, foam shapes and letters and push-and-pull vehicles that make noise or have large, removable people. Look for age-appropriate toys that will improve the toddler's hand-eye coordination.
Toddlers, two to three years of age, are stimulated by imitation. Toys that resemble adult items around their house are especially enticing. Age-appropriate toys include kitchen sets, toy tool sets and fake cell phones. Children this age are developing their fine motor skills, so look for toys with small buttons to push and knobs to turn.
For preschool-aged children, age-appropriate toys are ones that represent their interests. Children who are interested in building may enjoy large Legos® or blocks. Boys or girls fascinated with make-believe may enjoy doll houses with furniture, or barns with animals. Preschoolers who love art may enjoy crayons, markers, paint or colored pencils.
Most toys are labeled with the age group they are meant for. It may be tempting to buy toys for children that are younger than the recommended age group but it is not advised, since there is a risk of the child being hurt from playing with these toys. It also becomes frustrating for the parents of the child, as more than likely, they will end up having to help the child constantly while playing with the toys. Toys for older children usually require finely developed motor skills, that young children haven't yet developed.