FOR ALL CHILDREN,
toys are props used in
play, and the process of
play itself is invaluable in
the development of physical, cognitive, social and
Selecting the best toy
can seem confusing. However, toy selection is actually easy, following this formula: Age appropriateness plus unique
interests plus current skill level equals one
fun play experience!
Your shopping trip should begin with
research. Consider the child’s current age,
current skill set, unique interests and any
special needs or challenges. Toys should be
chosen on an individual basis and match a
child’s personality and developmental
stage. What is appropriate for one child is
not always a good bet for a sibling.
It’s best for children to have different
types of toys to round out their overall
Here is a suggested list by age.
Infant. Baby toys need to provide a variety of sensory opportunities: sight, sound,
touch (shape, size, texture). As a safety precaution, be sure any toy you give an infant
is used under parental supervision.
Toddler. Physical play should be the
focus. Encourage toys with wheels that
urge a child to use excess energy and
develop emerging muscle control. Large-piece puzzles help children with patience
and concentration skills while promoting
fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. At this stage, children are likely to
imitate parents with kitchen sets, sports
toys and musical instruments. Early learning aids and educational toys that encourage alphabet practice and pattern
recognition are best.
Preschool. Children are fascinated by
how and why things work. Large chunky
construction sets, washable crayon and
marker sets, dolls, action figures, modeling
compounds and simple board games
encourage creativity. Introduce toys that
inspire imagination and pretend play to
help the child practice life skills and engage
Choosing the right
toy for your child
Costco members will find a wide variety of
toys appropriate for every age in the warehouse and on Costco.com.
with the world they see through their own
eyes. Communication skills can be expanded through repetition at this stage. Look for
electronic toys that feature repetitive
phrases, concepts and direction.
School age. This is the age for “make
and create.” Children in this group learn
best by self-discovery and expression. Art
kits, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) projects and toys that
encourage logic and creative thinking are
ideal for keeping a child’s attention and
boosting self-esteem. Drones, remote-control cars, jewelry kits, hobby toys, prob-lem-solving math games, sports equipment,
construction and building sets with detailed
elements, robotic toys and multiperson
board games are key for inspiring imagina-
tion and social interaction with peers.
Preteen. Acceptance from friends and
self-esteem are important to preteens, and
the categories of toys they play with subse-
quently start to change. Promote toys to get
them interacting with friends. Social and
intellectual skills can be refined though
games. Outdoor skill-based games encour-
age physical strength, while board games
can challenge individual academic skills.
Collectibles are still important, and craft
sets that match science and math concepts
they are learning in school remain interest-
ing. Social interaction is the one key factor
to look for in any toy for a child this age.
Toys are memory-making tools for
caregivers and children to use together.
Set time aside to play often with the child
in your life. C
Marianne M. Szymanski ( toytips.com) is the
author of Toy Tips: The Essential Guide to
Smart Toy Choices (Jossey-Bass, ;;;;; not
available at Costco).