How to get the most out of toy time

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

A trip to the toy store isn’t so simple (or cheap) these days. Parents and kids are flooded with nearly every kind of toy imaginable—from trucks with loud sirens, dolls that talk, balls that flash, and tablets that do everything under the sun. Sometimes these toys can be fun, but they’re not always worth the expense. And noisy toys in particular can be sneaky hazards to young children’s hearing health.

The most important function of toys is to allow children to express themselves, use their imagination and discover new things. Here are some tips on how to make the most out of toy time with your kids.

  • Pick toys without batteries, lights and sounds.

Research shows children communicate less when playing with electronic toys.

  • Find or make toys that your child is interested in and play at their level.

Some children like to taste toys. Some like to put things inside containers and some like to pretend.

  • Be flexible!

Toys can be used in a lot of different ways—not just how they were made to be used. Let them put blocks in the microwave, throw stuffed animals in the air, or put Mr. Potato Head parts in the wrong places.

  • Sometimes the best toys are household or outside objects.

Strainers can be fun bath toys or be used to put dry spaghetti in. Laundry baskets can be used as a car, boat or a place to hide under. Leaves can be blankets for a doll, and pine cones and sticks can be drumsticks.

  • Have fewer toys available.

Research shows that when there are fewer toys available to a child, they become more creative in finding different ways to play. It also increases their attention span. Rotate a new set of toys every month or two to change it up. Also, be aware that things like background TV noise can decrease attention to toys.