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Tips for toy shopping

Published in Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Michelle Kiffmeyer, MA

Christmas is just around the corner. If toys are on your shopping list, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose toys that can help children learn new skills and practice social skills.
  • Don’t buy a toy just because you had one as a child.
  • Think outside of the gender box.
  • Follow manufacturer guidelines for appropriate ages.


  • Blocks: Wooden blocks can be used in a variety of imaginative play.
  • Legos: Manipulative toys encourage fine motor skills and creativity.
  • Dolls: Children practice caretaking and social skills with baby dolls.
  • Play kitchen and toolbox: Toys based on real life items allow children to imitate adults.
  • Dress-up: From a pirate to a princess, children’s imaginations are limitless with hats, scarves, masks, costume, etc.
  • Animals: Dinosaurs, farm and zoo animals inspire make believe.
  • Art supplies: Encourage little artists with playdough, paint, markers, paper, stickers, etc.
  • Musical toys: Children explore sound and rhythm.
  • Physical toys: Promote coordination and gross motor skills with balls, sports equipment, jump ropes, riding toys, bikes, etc.
  • Board games: From cooperative play to problem solving, children learn lifelong skills playing games.
  • Books: Create a love of reading for children by reading to them and being a role model by reading yourself.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on fancy, trendy toys. The most important gift you can give the children in your life is your time.