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AGES & STAGES: Safe and Fun Play for Holiday 2012

 Child development stages


  • Birth to Six Months

In the first six months of life, babies can’t grasp objects with their hands, so they tend to use their ears and eyes to experience play. Toys that make noise or feature high-contrast, black-and-white or brightly colored images will definitely keep them entertained. Once they can reach for objects, they’ll gravitate toward toys that are textured and safe for mouthing. Check to see that plush (stuffed) toys have age-appropriate features such as embroidered or secured eyes and noses for younger children and seams that are reinforced to withstand an older child’s play. And remember to avoid the possibility of entanglement by avoiding toys with strings, straps or cords twelve (12) inches or longer for children younger than eighteen (18) months of age.

  • Six Months to 12 Months

Babies this age are mastering the motor skills that enable them to play with toys in new and exciting ways. When babies can sit up, they enjoy toys they can bang, drop, stack, put in and take out, and open and shut. And once they start moving – whether crawling, “cruising”, or walking – they enjoy things that move along with them. Toys that show cause and effect are also thrilling at this age.

  • One to Two Years

In their second year of life, children are explorers. Fueled by curiosity and wonder, toddlers are also incredibly active. A busy toddler needs toys for physical play – walking, climbing, pushing and riding – and ones that encourage experimentation and manipulation. At this age, children imitate adults and enjoy props that help them master life skills. Imaginative and educational toys are also highly beneficial.

  • Two to Three Years

Older toddlers love testing their physical skills – jumping, climbing and throwing – and enjoy toys for active play. This age group also possesses good hand and finger coordination and enjoys putting these skills to work with basic arts and crafts, puppets, blocks and simple puzzles. Imaginative play also begins in the third year.

  • Three to Six Years

After the age of three, children begin to play actively with each other. Preschoolers and kindergartners are masters of make-believe. They like to act out grown-up roles and enjoy costumes and props to help them bring their imagination to life. It is quite common for children this age to develop strong attachments to favorite toys, expressing feelings to a special doll or teddy bear. Materials for arts and crafts are also popular with this age group, which enjoys creating things with their hands.

  • Six to Nine Years

School-age children enjoy play that requires strategy and skill. Board games, tabletop sports and classic toys like marbles and kites are favorites. Grade-schoolers also enjoy exploring different kinds of grown-up worlds and like fashion and career dolls and action figures. Children this age seek out new information and experiences through play and enjoy science, craft and magic kits. In addition, this age group possesses the physical skills and coordination to enjoy junior versions of adult sporting equipment.

  • Nine to Twelve Years

Preteens begin to develop hobbies and life-long interests and enjoy crafts, model kits, magic sets, advanced construction sets, science kits and sophisticated jigsaw puzzles. Active play finds its expression in team sports. Painting, sculpting, ceramics and other art projects continue to be of interest.

Toy Industry AssociationTM is the not-for-profit trade association for producers and importers of toys and youth entertainment products sold in North America.

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