If you put an advertisement of toys in front of any toddler they will point to a hundred toys which interest them. Much like me at the dinner table, children’s eyes are bigger than their stomachs, so to speak. It’s easy to find a toy which will amuse children. It’s also easy to spend a lot of money on different toys. However, it is always better for your budget to shop for toys much like you shop for clothing. In other words, buy toys which will be used for a long period of time, are useful, and wear well. So while it is easy to shop for toddler toys, allowing them to choose toys may not be the best option. In this article we’ll explore some budget friendly toys for parents in which children both enjoy, and from which they also learn important skills.
Older toddlers can benefit from dress up clothes bought at flea markets, from ‘lots’ on eBay and even from your closets. Clothes with buttons, zippers, and Velcro are perfect for young hands to develop dexterity and learn valuable problem solving techniques. For smaller children, age 1-3, small buttons are a poor choice as they often put them in their mouths and can swallow and choke on the buttons, however, using Velcro, zippers and snaps can help them just as easily. Old clothes and dress up clothes are relatively cheap toys in which any child can benefit from using. Don’t forget to include old shoes with buckles, laces (for older toddlers) and purses with unique closures.
Puzzles are one of those toys that children of all ages have a lot of fun putting together. Often I’ve found myself just as interested in building the puzzles with children. There are large puzzle piece sets for younger toddlers, with 25 extremely large pieces, and smaller piece puzzles as they get older. Puzzles are a great way to develop motor skills, creativity, problem solving, and pattern awareness. You can even have special puzzles made that teach your children unique things. For example, you could take a picture of the local flowers in your area and teach children about those special properties. Locally we have blueberry bushes and wild strawberry plants and I like to make puzzles based on those and other edible plants nearby.
Children really enjoy any toy from old dolls to new Legos. There aren’t many wrong choices a parent can make. Just keep in mind that children from age 0-4 like to put almost everything in their mouths; and that smaller pieces, buttons, eyes, and doll hair, can get stuck in their throats. Other things to watch out for are toxic paint, and smaller cut out toys that children can get their hands stuck inside. Use dolls with painted eyes, and no hair to avoid problems with children under the age of 3.