How to Pick Toys with Staying Power [and Avoid the Duds]

We’ve all done it, bought toys that looked really fun only to see them languish in the toy bin collecting dust. What’s the difference between a toy that’s forgotten the day after it’s received and one that gets played with week after week?

Look at the time-tested toys on the Toys That Kids Play With lists and you’ll see that most share certain qualities.

Good toys

  • Are age appropriate. Toys meant for older kids can not only be dangerous for younger ones, but can be confusing or boring since kids haven’t acquired the skill or understanding they need to use them.
  • Can be used in more than one way as kids grow and learn.
  • Let kids be creative. They allow kids to create imagined worlds and scenarios.
  • Encourage extended attention. Kids play with them for more than a minute.
  • FosterĀ  skill development. The best toys help kids build language, motor, social or problem solving skils while they play.
  • Appeal to the senses. They’re fun to look at, touch, and listen to.

On the flip side, toys destined to be forgotten

  • Aren’t interactive. Kids watch them do what they do rather than participating actively.
  • Are one-trick ponies. There’s only one way to play with them.
  • Make noises so annoying that mom or dad makes them disappear forever (*cough* Zhu Zhu Pet *cough*)
  • Require you to keep buying accessories, refills, etc. in order to maintain your child’s interest.

What characteristics would YOU add to these lists?

Coming soon: We’ll take a look at some of the toys on the 2011 “hot toys” lists and see how they do or don’t meet the criteria for good toys.

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  1. Steve says:

    Similar to what we try to teach our children, their toys should “play well with other [toys]” My 3-year-old-son loves using his blocks to make a “road” or “garage” for his cars to utilize. Or putting Buzz and Woody characters into the drivers seat of other cars/trucks/buildings. The best new toys are new and different and interesting, while also being easily incorporated into the child’s existing/remaining toy collection.

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