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.
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.
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. 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?