Basic Gear for Toddlers

Here's what you need to know about your toddler and the importance of play to their development. You'll find a checklist of what to types of toys to bring home and perhaps more importantly, what to avoid for this age group.


Toys and Development with toddlers. There’s a tremendous difference between your one-yearold, whose focus is primarily mastering and enjoying new-found mobility, and your two-year old, who is now running, jumping, and making giant leaps with language and imagination. Yet both years are known as the toddler years. Many toys for ones will continue to be used by twos in new and more complex ways. You’ll want to find a good mix of toys for Active Physical

Play, Strictly Outdoors, Sit-Down Play, Pretend Play, Art and Music, Bath Toys, Basic Furniture, Comfort Toys, Travel Toys.


Active Exploration. Anyone who spends time with toddlers knows they are active-on-the-go learners. They don’t visit long, because there are so many places and things to explore. Toys that invite active investigation are best for this age group. For toddlers, toys with doors that open,knobs to push, and pieces to fit, fill, and dump provide the raw material for developing fine motor skills, language, and imagination.


Big Muscle Play. Toddlers also need playthings that match their newfound mobility and budding sense of independence, Wheeled toys to push, ride and even ride in are great favorites, So is equipment they can climb rock, and slide on. In these two busy years toddlers grow from wobbly walkers to nimble runners and climbers, building not just their big muscles but gaining a sense of themselves as able movers.


Language and Pretend Power. As language develops so does the ability to say what they want and even begin first games of make-believe, more on action than story lines. Choose props that look like things they see in the real world, a truck that rolls, a boat that floats, unbreakable toy dishes and pots.


Toys and Development. Ones and twos need a good mix of toys for their varying kinds of play. Toys for indoors and out, for quiet solo, sit down times and social run-and-shout-out-loud times. A variety of playthings (which might include a plain paper bag or some real pots and pans) give kids the learning tools they need to stretch their physical, intellectual, and social development.


Your Role in Play. Playing and (keeping up) with an active toddler requires a sense of humor and realistic expectations. In order to satisfy their growing appetite for independence, select uncomplicated toy that won’t frustrate their sense of “can do” power. For example, if your toddler does not want to sit down with you and work on a puzzle now, she may be willing in an hour, or she may be telling you it’s too difficult and should be put away and tried again in a few weeks.


Age Labels on Toys. Keep in mind that the age labels on toys are stretched as far down and up as possible. Toys marked for 3 and up mean that somewhere in or on that toy there are small parts, even if you can’t see them and therefore hazardous to children under three and some who are over three but who still mouth their toys.





Basic Gear Checklist for Toddlers: One-year-olds

*Push and Pull toys

*Ride-on toy

*Small vehicles

*Musical toy

*Toy Phone

*Fill and Dump toys

*Manipulatives with Moving Parts

*Huggables



Basic Gear Checklist for Toddlers: Twos

*Ride-on/in toy

*Pull and Push toys

*Big Light-weight Ball

*Climbing/sliding toy

*Big Cardboard Blocks

*Huggables, (fist size to oversized soft dolls and animals)

*Props for housekeeping pretend


*Table and Chair

*Art supplies


*Simple Puzzles

*Manipulatives (Hammer toys, ball runs)

*Books with sturdy pages

*Simple shape-sorter/stackers

*Sand and water toys

*Musical toys




Toys to Avoid with Toddlers


These toys pose a choking and/or suffocation hazards

*Foam toys

*Toys with small parts; if it goes through a toilet paper roller it’s too small

*Dolls and stuffed animals with fuzzy and/or long hair and do-dads

*Toys labeled 3 & up ( no matter how smart your toddler is. The label almost always indicates that there are small parts somewhere in or on the toy.)

*Latex balloons (Note: The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that laten balloons are the leading cause of suffocation deaths! Since 1973 more than 110 children have died from suffocation involving un-inflated balloons or

pieces of broken ones. They are not advised for children under age 6.)

*Bath toys that take on water that collects bacteria


These toys are developmentally inappropriate:

*Electronic educational drill and practice toys

*Shape sorters with more than three shapes

*Battery operated ride-ons

*Most pedal toys



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