If you’re a parent and your child’s birthday is coming up, the chances are you’re already quite organised and clued-up when it comes to presents. Whether they’ve left you one too many hints to ignore, or you’ve seen something you’d know they’d love, you’ve probably got it sorted.
But what about all the uncles, aunties, friends-of-friends, godparents, and network of wider family members? Obviously you can ask the parents what their child would like, but that feels like taking the fun out of it, doesn’t it?
To take the stress out of buying gifts for kids, here are some tips to give non-parents a helping hand.
Choose something that encourages their imagination
You want to keep things simple. Don’t go for a toy that doesn’t encourage a child to use their imagination and think for themselves. If the toy has too many ‘bells and whistles’ then the child is probably going to get bored. Instead, go for something that encourages a child to improvise. Heard of the phrase ‘less is more’? It applies here. Take a look at my nature gifts for kids post for lots of inspiring ideas.
Limit the electronic toys & video games
While children of an older age (those around the teenage years) are more video game-appropriate, it’s a good idea to limit the exposure of video games to younger kids.
The lure of screens is really hard to resist for today’s younger generations, and it makes sense to avoid adding to the temptation. Managing screen time is hard work for parents too, so bear in mind that they may not appreciate this type of gift!
Choose gifts for kids age-appropriately
Whatever gift you choose, you need to make sure it’s age-appropriate. Here’s a quick guide.
At this age, kids are developing hand-eye coordination. They’re fascinated by different sights, sounds and textures. For this age you should think about things the child can begin to physically play around with – this includes rattles, mobiles and soft stackables.
At the older baby age, a child can now hold small toys. They’re learning about what will happen if they knock things over and drop things – cause and effect, basically. To help with their investigation into this area you could look for more stackables, soft toys, and small balls.
If you want to buy creative toys that will be helpful in the long run, tableware can also be an option. After breast or bottle-feeding, it is complicated to start solid food at this age, at the same time, mealtimes should be kept as relaxed as possible for the baby and for the parent. Gifting baby tableware can be ideal during this period. When searching for a great tableware set, opt for ones that are made from organic materials and have other features such as suction, to help parents prevent mess. For example, organic baby weaning sets can be perfect as they are safe and cute. When choosing ones that are cute and appealing, the picky eater problem can also be solved.
A child is now starting to experiment with all kinds of shapes, sizes and spaces. They’ve also got the hang of all that cause and effect business. With this in mind, push-pull toys are a great idea. Nesting cups, rings on poles, shape sorters, and simple building blocks are also good options.
Around this age, children master the art of ‘pretending’ and role play. Your first port of call should be costumes, masks (not scary ones!), dolls, kitchen sets, trucks and anything that helps them to create an imaginary world.
Around this age, ‘pretend play’ continues, and children learn more about socialising and mixing with other kids. You want toys that exercise their imagination while encouraging sociable activity. The following are all good ideas: play-doh, finger paints, dressing up sets, and crayons. Children this age are also making great strides with their motor skills, so you could go for simple musical instruments such as drums and maracas, or ‘hammer and peg’ toys.
Once a child starts to leave their toddler years behind them, they want toys that challenge them. Consider board games, bikes, arts and crafts, and play sets featuring their favourite characters from television. Books are another great option here, especially if they encourage creative play and get them engaged with nature. Used responsibly, technology can be a great educational tool that challenges a child and encourages their imagination and creativity.
Let the toy generator do the work for you!
If you’re still struggling for ideas (it’s not easy!) then Toys For a Pound have released a fantastic kids toy generator which gives you suggestions based on the occasion, child’s age and personality. Give it a try! And, remember: if you’re in doubt, just ensure what you do get is age-appropriate.
What’s your number one tip when buying gifts for kids?