Toys range in size and intricacy from plush stuffed animals to entire-assembly-required sets of tiny parts, meaning they also vary in terms of the ages of the children for whom they are intended. While it may be a really great feeling to buy the kids in your life whichever toys they want most, you’ll feel even better when you give them something that is fun and age range/safety appropriate.
Birth to 6 months old—At this age, when infants develop through exploring with their eyes, ears and mouths, focus on gifts that are textured and safe for mouthing. There should be no small parts that could be swallowed or become lodged in the throat and nothing with potentially “entangling” cords, ribbon, elastic or strings.
Suggestions: floor gyms, activity quilts, teething toys, large interlocking plastic keys or rings, cloth toys, soft dolls, stuffed animals, musical or chime toys, rattles
6 months to 1 year old—This is a time of learning: to sit up, to crawl and to figure out what toys are made of, including banging them, dropping them, stacking them, and opening and closing them. Avoid anything that is breakable, has sharp edges or is small enough to fit entirely in the mouth (swallowing risk).
Suggestions: push-pull toys, nesting/stacking toys, pop-up toys, soft blocks, bath toys, teething toys, stuffed animals, simple musical instruments, squeeze/squeak toys, rattles, cloth/cardboard picture books, medium-sized balls
1 to 2 years old—Kids at this age are on the move, and that means that they need toys that can keep up with their fast paces. Keep your selections focused on fun, adventurous games and toys without sharp edges or small parts.
Suggestions: wagons, backyard gym equipment, nesting/stacking toys, simple shape sorters, sandbox toys, wading pools, stuffed animals, kitchen toys, playhouses
2 to 3 years old—Physical games rule in this age group! Choose toys that keep kids engaged and active, still avoiding small parts and anything sharp or too rough-edged.
Suggestions: balls, building blocks, blocks with letters/numbers, dolls, puzzles, dress up clothes, play scenes, tricycles/protective gear, play vehicles, storybooks, stuffed animals
3 to 6 years old—Children act like miniature adults in this age group, pretending and imagining their way through the majority of their playtime sessions. They will love things that engage them and allow the pretending to continue, but make sure to keep those things non-toxic and sharp edge-free.
Suggestions: tricycles/bicycles and helmets, construction toys, puzzles, props for make believe, non-toxic art supplies, simple story games, simple word/matching games, storybooks, lacing sets, basic jewelry sets
Suggestions: roller skates/protective gear, swimming gear, jump ropes, construction toys, action figures, doll houses, jigsaw puzzles, magic sets, craft/model kits, art supplies, electronic games, board games, fairytale books
9 to 12 years old—In this period of life, children develop hobbies and life-long interests. Active play, team sports, art projects, science projects and more will make perfect gifts.
Suggestions—sports equipment, model kits, science kits, chess/checkers, art supplies, advanced board games, video games, strategy games, advanced books