PARENT PICKLES: Weapons, sexy dolls and other questions about buying toys
AT CHRISTMAS the question of what toys are appropriate for children often comes up.
Adults worry about what to buy for their own children or for the children of relatives, friends and neighbours.
Toys are important to a child's development as they support their use of imagination, creativity and problem solving while playing.
Remember the age range on a toy is only a guide; the most important thing is to choose something that suits the child's interests and stage of development.
So what to choose?
Babies enjoy watching your facial expressions, listening to your voice and spending time with you. Therefore the best idea is to get them toys that involve playing with other people.
If you get them a ball, then make sure you roll it back and forth with them.
For toddlers, toys that involve doing something are the best idea. This could include building blocks and other construction-type toys, dress-up clothing or basic instruments that they can shake or hit.
As your child gets older, it's a great idea to buy them puzzles and games that involve problem solving and using their imagination.
Open-ended toys are great for any age
Toys that are open-ended allow children to use them in many different ways and engage their imagination and creativity. These toys are preferable to something that dictates one or a handful of uses.
For example, blocks can be used to build many items such as roads and buildings, but they can also be picked up and used as props.
Arts and craft sets are also great because your child can make anything they want.
Something as simple as a cardboard box will also entertain your child as they can use it as a tunnel, as a vehicle, as a robot, as a shop counter and many more things. So if you get them (or anyone in the family) a Christmas present in a big box, keep it for your child to play with.
Weapons, sexy dolls and other questions
Parents do worry about what toys are okay for their children, but each family will have their own values that determine what is or isn't appropriate.
When it comes to toy weapons, the most important issue is how a child uses the toy weapon (or imaginary one) towards other children. If you are concerned about that, then it's best to choose a different gift.
Similarly, some dolls now have rather high mini-skirts, fishnet stockings and other clothing that many view as sexualising them. Consider what message the doll might send before you purchase.
Lastly, there are many value questions families may have. The use of plastics is a concern for many parents, while consumerism worries others. If you are buying for someone else's child, be aware of what their values are before you buy.