Saturday, 3 May 2014

Toddler Toys

I’ve had great fun shopping for toys recently, ready for my grandson’s first birthday. Although I have to say, the onslaught of noisy, flashing, brightly coloured toddler ‘gadgets’ greeting me in the shops has become a bit overwhelming.

Much as I can see that many of these toys are educational and fun, I think there is a limit to how many of these ‘full-on’ toys any one small person needs.

My first purchase was an eye-catching fire engine from Carousel. Yes it does have a flashing light (it’s a fire engine), yes it does make a noise (it’s a fire engine) but it also has several features for a child to operate manually – i.e. you push it to make it move and it has little doors that open up to reveal activities.

When choosing a second toy I was looking for something with a bit less ‘bling’, electronic learning toys can be great, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. The only problem was everything I touched in the shops seemed to beep and flash at me, rather than hint at more traditional play. 

Of course, I’m of a generation whose toys had very few beeps and flashes and batteries were very seldom required. Many toys just needed pushing, building, playing ‘pretend’ or manual operation. Although I do remember my parents giving me a clever little train engine, that moved around the floor until it hit something, whereupon it emitted a whistle, flashed a light, reversed and headed off to repeat the whole process again. As far as I remember that was the most ‘high-tech’ toy I had as a child, and indeed the only one of its kind that I had.

But back to the present. With my mind firmly on trains I selected ‘My First Train Set’ from Tomy, which consists of a little track, tunnel, trees and a train with moving eyes. How does it work? Friction. You just pull back the little engine and watch it go – no batteries, no beeps, no flashes!
A very young me with said train engine

Flushed with success I decided to quit whilst I was ahead and completed my gift shopping with more traditional purchases of books and some character pyjamas.

Electronic toys can be fun and educational, but we must choose more traditional ones too, in order to promote motor skills and, most importantly of all, imagination!

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