When you have kids, toys become an integral part of your home, whether they are new toys or used toys. You buy them, friends bring them on special occasions, and family members may hand them down to you. Toys are how your kids learn and practice to live in the world.
But while all toys are fun to play with, not all of them are beneficial or safe for your kids. Today, we look at different types of toys for toddlers, and how used toys can play a role in your child's life.
What Toys Should Every Toddler Have?
If you look at your child's stash of toys, there are probably over 30 different types, depending on how often you buy toys. But as it turns out, your child only needs 7 types of toys. Granted, you should get a variety of them to switch up during toy rotation, but the basics should remain the same. And used toys in these categories are all good choices.Without further ado, here are the 7 toys every toddler should have.
Blocks are fun and educational toys that strengthen a child's motor skills, hand-eye coordination, structural concepts, and cognitive development. You can stack them into spaceships, castles, forts, cars, and anything else a child can come up with. But it is the sheer joy of knocking the structure down and building something new that puts them in the number one position.
2. Vehicles, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Kids in this century live in a world where they see vehicles and different modes of transport every day. Both girls and boys love anything that rolls, floats or flies. But since they can't drive the real thing, the next best thing is a replica that they can pretend to drive. Vehicles with movable parts, trains that can connect, and things like forklifts help with hand dexterity, coordination, and imagination.
3. Dolls and Stuffed Animals
Dolls and stuffed animals are not just cute and cuddly. They are also excellent tools for helping your little one express emotions, practice empathy and nurturing, and also learn to role-play. Dolls are also the first toys that kids learn to be responsible for because they need to be fed, dressed, and taken care of.
Balls are the basis for all types of sports, and you should have them in different sizes. They help children practice hand dexterity while trying to grasp the ball and also crawl when the ball rolls away. Eventually, the child will learn how to bounce, throw and catch the ball, and this works different muscles and cognitive abilities.
5. Small Figures
Also known as play figures, children love role-playing with small animals, humans, and real-life items. Buy them a dollhouse with furniture and small people for pretend play. Set them up with a zoo full of animals or a garage with cars. The role of small figures is to encourage imaginative play and creativity.
6. Art Supplies
Age-appropriate art supplies like edible paint, crayons, play dough, and paper help children develop creativity and learn to express themselves through art. It's also a great way to develop motor skills, hand dexterity, and hand-eye coordination.
Finally, every toddler should have a puzzle or two. Working on puzzles develops cognitive abilities like memory, concentration, IQ, and problem-solving skills. Start with the simplest puzzles and keep on upgrading. For more on age-appropriate puzzles, see our article The Ages and Stages of Puzzles.
How Do I Keep My Two-Year-Old Busy?
Two-year-olds or terrific twos, as they are commonly known, are a wild age group full of energy, curiosity, and the search for independence. They can get bored quickly and may start throwing tantrums when that happens.
The best way to keep a two-year-old toddler busy is to have a wide variety of toys. The 7 essentials we have mentioned above should be available to them in different varieties so you can rotate toys after a week or so. Used toys are a great option, as they cost much less and are a sustainable choice when shopping.
It's also crucial to take time to play with your child and keep them active so they can expel some of that energy. Resist the urge to dictate which games to play and instead let your child take the lead so they can feel independent.
Is It Okay To Buy Used Toys for My Baby?
Shopping for used toys or accepting them from relatives and friends is a great way to save some cash, save the environment and hold on to memories. And with a little common sense, you can ensure it's a safe practice.
When buying used toys, you want to ensure they are in good condition and won't pose any danger to your child. Check for broken parts or peeling paint. Often sustainable toys made from wood and non-toxic stains are a good choice. These types of toys are built to last and hold up to years of play. Buying used toys from a source you trust is a good idea too. That might be a local consignment shop or nearby thrift store you're familiar with, or an online marketplace like TOYCYCLE, that inspects and vets every toy they sell.
How Do I Disinfect My Baby's Second Hand Toys?
Cleaning a used toy is fairly straightforward. Keep in mind that your child will encounter many, many toys as they grow that have been handled by lots of other children too. At daycare, the tot museum, playground, friend's houses, play cafes, and just about anywhere you take them. As a parent, it's easy to get stressed out about germs in these situations. Some can cause serious illnesses. But take heart. Babies have immune systems that are more resilient than you might think.
Even so, cleaning your child's toys is a good idea. And how you disinfect a toy depends on the type. For example, you can throw most stuffed animals in the washing machine. Just put them inside a mesh bag or pillowcase to protect them. Tumble dry on low heat. If you're more comfortable with it, just wipe the surface with a damp cloth and leave it in the sun to dry - sunlight is a natural germ killer.
As for plastic toys, wipe them with a clean cloth and warm soapy water or a non-toxic cleaner. Check the inside of the toy to ensure there is no dirt or mold trapped there. It's best to discard a toy that has sprouted mold.
Items like blocks and vehicles can be soaked in a tub of hot water with a non-toxic cleaner or dish soap and then wiped dry.
Watching your child enjoy playtime and learn things in the process is one of the many rewards of parenting. And owning an ample supply of engaging toys doesn't have to break the bank. Purchasing used toys is a good choice. Good for you, good for your child, and good for the planet.