Toys for Children: Are They Just Unnecessary Gadgets?

Toys for Children: Are They Just Unnecessary Gadgets?

Do children need toys, or are they just obstacles we trip over when entering our homes?

Can children grow up without them?
They can, but toys greatly facilitate their development.

Let's see why it's worthwhile to buy toys for children.

– The first few years of life, approximately up until preschool, are the most creative period in a person's life, says psychologist Mirosława Kownacka. – We never again acquire so many skills and are never as receptive and creative as during this time.

Little children learn through play, which is why we should buy them toys that support their development. Our ancestors knew this thousands of years ago, as toys are as old as civilization itself.



Which is Better: Teddy Bear or Blocks?

In a toy store, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. What should you decide on: a plush cuddly toy, an educational game, or perhaps blocks?

There are no better or worse toys. A brown teddy bear can be not just a friend, but also the hero of many imaginative games. However, it doesn't make sense to overwhelm a child with tons of stuffed animals, as they will quickly lose interest. This is how the mind defends itself against an overload of stimuli.



Toys and a Child's Temperament

It's important that toys match a child's temperament. A child with a melancholic disposition will enjoy a set of small objects that can be sorted, arranged, or collected (like small animals or doll furniture).

On the other hand, a sanguine child – lively and impulsive, with concentration difficulties – will be happier with a large, colorful car that can transport things from place to place.

A phlegmatic child, who shows little interest in their surroundings, can be fascinated by puppets, a mini kitchen, or a little store – items that draw them into play.

Meanwhile, a little choleric child needs toys that slightly exceed their capabilities. The best choice would be a task-oriented, construction toy.



Ten Reasons to Have Toys

Newborns already like them. When they look at interesting objects, touch them, and listen, they develop their senses – sight, hearing, touch. Stimulating these senses positively affects the development of the entire brain.

During play, a child learns the rules governing the world. When they put blocks into a box or drop a rattle on the floor, they learn cause and effect relationships.
Toys greatly stimulate a child's imagination. They help enter the world of fantasy, develop creativity, and allow children to feel like extraordinary characters (e.g., a knight, a princess).

Older children learn various social roles by imitating adults. They should have toys that assist in this (a tool set, nurse outfit, etc.).

Toys encourage movement – the child reaches out for them, grabs, throws. Movement not only strengthens the body but also develops coordination and reflexes.

An educational toy stimulates thinking, provokes questions (“how does this work?”) and seeking answers.

When our little one manages the tasks set by play, they gain self-confidence. Their self-esteem increases.

Cuddly toys are often children's friends: they help them sleep, ward off fears and sadness. They make the child feel safe.

Building with blocks and board games teach children the principles of cooperation. A preschooler playing with friends practices social behaviors and learns to respect rules and deal with loss.

Play can be a form of psychodrama, where a child releases their emotions (e.g., scolding a doll might be a way to express jealousy of a younger sibling).



Toy Suitable for Age

A reliable manufacturer includes this information on the packaging. It's very important for young children, whose perception and cognitive abilities change month by month. In the first six months, a baby carefully observes its surroundings. It watches the colorful toys hung above its crib and listens to the music box.

At 4-5 months, it starts to grasp objects. When teething, it puts rubber teethers in its mouth. It's good for them to have contact with pleasant-to-touch materials that are safe to put in the mouth.

Between 6 and 9 months, motor skills and eye, ear, and movement coordination develop. During this period, toys that roll on the floor, like balls or spinning tops, are best. The child begins to understand cause and effect, so it's time for colorful cups to be stacked inside each other.

A child who can walk well will enjoy pushing a cart or pulling something on a string. Between 9 and 18 months, the child starts to build with large blocks and likes to put blocks into a box. This is also the time to introduce them to their first cardboard or vinyl books.

Two and three-year-olds begin to imitate adults. They might receive a little handyman set or doctor's kit. Over time, the child's environment should include more books, board games, and materials that encourage creative activity, like ordinary clay or modeling dough.



Toys Must Be Safe

This is their most important feature. Especially strict criteria apply to toys for the youngest. Each should have a CE mark, confirming it has been tested and meets European standards.

Objects for toddlers must be made very carefully and from harmless materials. Many dangers lurk for a small child. They might bite off and swallow a small part of a toy, be poisoned by a harmful substance, or cut themselves on a sharp edge.
In markets, you can often find cheap toys without markings. Many of them are made in Asia. For the safety of your child, it's better not to buy them! The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection on its website lists a register of dangerous products. For example, the description of the battery-powered "Super Racing Car" warns that it poses a risk of injury.

"Growing" toys, representing animals and fairy-tale creatures, were entered into the register three years ago with an order to withdraw them from circulation, "pose a choking and suffocation hazard," the office reports. The Council of Ministers' regulation of 6.06.2004 prohibits the sale of toys and care products for children under three years that contain toxic phthalates.

As you can see, toys are no joke! It's worth paying more and taking a moment to read the information on the packaging.



Play with Your Child

The market is full of educational toys designed to stimulate a child's development and cognitive abilities. We must be careful not to overstimulate our little ones. Too much can be harmful!

Let's not forget about simple, traditional toys that generations have grown up with, such as a rocking horse, wooden blocks, or a baby doll in a stroller. The toy we give our child should not only be smart and safe but also aesthetically pleasing.
Store shelves are a riot of colors (dominated by yellow, red, green, and navy – children's favorite colors), and we ourselves want our child's world to be colorful. Meanwhile, for them, the greatest value might be a plain, unassuming gray-brown plush animal.

When choosing a toy, let's be guided by the child's preferences, not our own. One more thing: don't condemn the child to loneliness in a kingdom of toys! – No toy, no matter how beautiful or smart, can replace contact with parents! Spending time with your child, talking to them, creates a strong foundation for their further development, appeals Mirosława Kownacka.

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