Are you unsure what to get your child for a birthday or holiday gift?  Here is a simple guide to help you select toy gifts for kids of all ages, including babies, toddlers, and elementary school-age children.*  (Fisher-Price has a great toy suggestion guide for infants to 5 year olds.)

When shopping for toys, consider the age, personality, interests, and skills of the intended recipient.  Toys can help children build intellectual abilities as well as motor and social skills.  Parents, relatives, and friends can help a growing child develop a well-rounded personality and skill set by providing him or her with a variety of toys.

Birth to 1 year old

Infants like to grasp and hold things, and they should be exposed to a variety of sight, sound, and touch experiences.  Squishy toys and lightweight rattles as well as large blocks, nesting toys, and stacking toys, are good choices for the first few months of a baby's life.

1 to 3 years old

Toddlers like physical play activities.  Outdoor toy possibilities include wagons, balls, and ride-on toys.  Indoor toy selections include large blocks and toys which encourage development of hand-eye co-ordination.  Toddlers like toys which enable them to imitate their parents, and toy safety is a very important consideration for children in this age group.

3 to 5 years old

Preschool children are fascinated with the way things work.  Consider creative toys such as construction sets, crayons, and washable markers, as well as watercolor paints and simple board games.  Introduce toys which enable children to practice life skills and imitate their parents.  Examples include toy telephones and computers, doll houses, and pretend kitchen appliances.

5 to 9 years old

Introduce toys to young, school age children that teach them independence, team play, and sharing skills.  Select hobby toys, sports equipment, computer software, and problem-solving toys, as well as construction sets and storybooks.  Some games can help youngsters learn counting and problem-solving skills, while electronic toys with lights and sounds can help teach cause and effect relationships.  Many toys are designed for children in this age group, and appropriate toys for specific age children are listed below.

5 year old

Major play focus: play house, motor skills
  • Art and craft supplies
  • Dress-up clothes
  • Role-playing toys
  • Toy trains
  • Construction toys
  • Dolls — action figures, Barbie dolls, animals
  • Play kitchens
  • Learning computers
  • Children's tapes or CDs
  • Simple musical instruments
  • Sports balls
  • Bicycle with training wheels
  • Lego Duplo
  • Video games

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