Christmas Shopping for Kids Toys in 2012

The last thing anyone will want when selecting toys for the children in their lives this Christmas 2012 is for their toy to end up immediately sidelined and quickly forgotten. Yet often choosing appropriate and appealing toys for children can be a very difficult task, so we’ve created this article explaining both the basics and intricacies when it comes to Christmas shopping for kids in 2012.

Is your 6 year old niece too old for a baby doll? Or too young for a fashion doll? When do boys start getting into toy cars? Should I get my son a video game?

The problem is that as a child grows and matures their interests and preferences quickly develop and what may have been a favourite toy last year could be considered immature or dated this year, making it difficult to select toys that are age appropriate. Additionally, as a child grows older, one has to also take into consideration what toys and gifts are trending and bestselling and what toys are dated and “uncool”.

So this quick guide is designed to give you some gift ideas for children of varying ages this Christmas 2012 so you can always get that perfect gift for any youngster, no matter what their age!

Children under 3

Now when it comes to toys for a child under the age of 3, it’s all about sounds and colour. The reason for this is simple – it needs to attract the child’s attention and the easiest way to do that is to stimulate the child’s visual and auditory sensors. Kids at this age will be attracted to almost anything, as long as it’s brightly coloured or makes a noise. Just ask any mom who has given her youngster a bundle of keys!

Not only this but ideally toys at this age should be designed to help develop basic life skills, such as problem solving, hand-to-eye coordination, fine motor skills and sensory, auditory & physical development. It is imperative for children at this age to be exposed to such toys as to help develop these essential life skills, many of which will continue to develop and mature well into their teenage years.

When it comes to selecting toys for children under 3 it is generally recommended to stick to classic toys that have stood the test of time, because after all, children this age do not subscribe to passing fads, nor care what is trending on Amazon!

Such toys, for example, can include coloured building blocks, which help improve a child’s visual sensory development and cognitive skills. Shaped block puzzles where a child is challenged with putting the blocks into a box via the shaped holes is also a fantastic toy for a child’s cognitive and problem solving development. Toys that provide musical responses for certain actions are also good for a child’s auditory and cognitive development. And finally do not overlook “activity centers” that encourage a child to move around as these are essential for the child’s physical development.

Children aged 3, 4 and 5

You should note, when Christmas shopping for children aged 3, 4 and 5, that by this age they will be watching plenty of television now, which means they are going to be exposed to cartoons and TV adverts.

This means when children reach this age, they will have their favourite cartoons and cartoon characters which can be beneficial when buying a gift, because toys that feature a child’s favourite cartoon or TV show are certainly going to be received well!

However it is important that children at this age still receive toys designed to be educational as children will still be developing key skills, such as reading and writing, fine motor skills and physical development. Also toys that encourage a child to use their imagination, storytelling and exploration will help children with their social development.

Luckily there are plenty of toys on the market that are designed to help with the development of this wide range of skills. For example toys that encourage sport or other outdoor exercise will help with physical development, and this can be something as simple as a lightweight football, a bat and ball or a kids playcenter or slide.

Key skills such as reading, writing and spelling are increasingly tackled with so-called “kiddie consoles” which are essentially computers for children that are designed to make learning fun. Fine motor skills (a.k.a. intricate hand-eye-coordination) can be achieved with many play-sets such as pirate ships or dollhouses, and these toys will also encourage exploration and storytelling as well!

Children aged 6, 7 and 8

By this age children will be developing their own interests and hobbies, and it is extremely helpful to discover these interests when purchasing toys. For example a child may a favourite sport, TV show or may start developing interests in hobbies such as magic or types of collectable sets. Finding out what interests the child has will make picking out a great gift that much easier. If the child has started a collection, then you can always add to that collection.

For example if a boy has started collecting LEGO sets in a certain range then you can add to those sets. Or if a girl has started a collection of fashion dolls then these can always be added to with either new doll characters or accessories.

It is also worth noting that at this age gender becomes more of an issue as girls and boys will develop their own separate interests. Boys are typically interested in toys such as action toys, cars and superheroes. Girls will typically be interesting in “pretty and pink” toys, fashion dolls and accessories aimed at children.

Children should have a good grasp now at all of their basic key skills but you should always try and get toys that will encourage further development. For example a child’s fine motor skills will still need developing so purchasing toys such as artist sets will help in that area.

Learning tracing boards

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