These 10 toys have no batteries – just lots of wonder

The baby is crying. You wonder why, since she has just finished a bottle of milk a while ago. You’re in the middle of doing two-weeks worth of laundry; it has piled up because you’ve kept putting if off to attend to the baby. No, you think, I can’t leave the laundry yet again and go play with her. As her wails grow in volume, you rummage through your brain for whatever to keep her hushed until you’re done with your chore.

If you’re like most  parents today, the next scene would be you shoving a tablet with YouTube on under the baby’s nose. Our story ends with the baby pacified, small fingers grasping the tablet and from time to time tapping the screen, eyes glued to the animated video of farm animals dancing to Ring a Ring ‘O Rosie.

As much as the tablet bought you time to do your chore, your baby is shortchanged.  Consumer electronics may have made our lives easier but they aren’t always the best toys you could give your children. Experts are cautioning parents against the negative effects of too much use of electronic devices by children, including strained eyesight, obesity,  poor social interaction skills, and even increased chances of  risky behavior.

This doesn’t mean, though, that as long as it’s non-electronic they deserve a place in the playroom. Here, using toys from the June 2017 issue of Parents, we give you pointers you can use on your next trip to the toyshop with the kids:

1. If it has small or sharp parts, it’s not safe. The first thing parents should consider when buying toys for their children, whatever their age may be, is safety. For infants and toddlers, avoid toys with small detachable parts that they could swallow, as well as those with sharp edges  or pointed shapes they could hurt themselves with. If the toy is painted, make sure the paint used is non-toxic – the manufacturer usually says it in the box if it is.

2. Touching is better than touchscreen. Infancy is a period of exploration, so babies love toys that stimulate their senses, those with bright colors and they  can squeeze or shake.  Manhattan Toys’ Skwish resembles a molecular model in your high school chemistry laboratory but it’s actually a teether and rattle combined in one toy. Your baby can squish all she wants this bundle of rubberwood sticks and strings and it always returns to its original shape.

The Manhattan Toy Co-Skwish Color Burst Boxed

The Manhattan Toy Co. | Skwish Color Burst Boxed – $18.00
International shipping weight – .5 kg
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3.The world is their playground. It’s easy to fall into the trap of making YouTube do the babysitting for parents, but growing children need their physical exercise. Your children will do well with toys that encourage them go outside and move around, like this pushing car wagon by Oompa Toys. If your child is already old enough, riding a bicycle, like the Strider 12 Sport, is a good way to get active while having fun.

Oompa-Pushing Car Wagon

Oompa | Pushing Car Wagon – $229.99
International shipping weight – 21 kg
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Strider Bikes-12 Sport Balance Bike

Strider Bikes | 12 Sport Balance Bike – $119.99
International shipping weight – 10 kg
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4. Make-believe makes merry. WebMD says when children reach 18 months, they begin to enjoy “pretend” play: playing with dolls and toy vehicles or even acting as characters themselves. Enjoy hours of make-believe fun with the Zoo Friends Hand Puppets from Melissa and Doug Company and the Queen No Grumpy Cat plush toy by Gund. Set the story in a zoo or jungle, or you can stretch the imagination further and bring it to a villa, like this pink three-storey Barbie Dreamhouse by Mattel. Experts say not only does pretend play stir the imagination, it also helps build empathy in the child.

Melissa & Doug-Zoo Friends Hand Puppets

Melissa & Doug | Zoo Friends Hand Puppets – $24.99
International shipping weight – 1.5 kg
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Gund-Queen No Grumpy Cat

Gund | Queen No Grumpy Cat – $28.00
International shipping weight – .5 kg
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Mattel-Barbie Dreamhouse

Mattel | Barbie Dreamhouse – $189.99
International shipping weight – 27 kg
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5. It’s more fun when they do it themselves. For child psychologists, the best toys are those that allow the child to solve problems or create things. So when the child turns two, start making space in the playroom for puzzles, like eeBoo’s 1,008-piece puzzle;  art materials like coloring books, crayons and books; and building blocks like Lego.

Lego, especially, is a frequently recommended item by  teachers and child development specialists for its myriad benefits. Pondering how a brightly colored brick connects to the other lays the foundation for a child’s  logical and creative thinking skills. For older kids, Lego kits with specific designs, like the Lego Porsche 911 GT3 RS and S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, introduce them to building professions like engineering and architecture.

But if it’s the building blocks of life they’re interested in, why not get them a real compound microscope, like the one in the AmScope Microscope Kit?

Eeboo-Circus 1000 Piece Puzzle

Eeboo | Circus 1000 Piece Puzzle – $17.99
International shipping weight – 1.5 kg
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Lego-Technic Porsche 911

Lego | Technic Porsche 911 – $299.99
International shipping weight – 12 kg
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Lego-The SHIELD Helicarrier

Lego | The SHIELD Helicarrier – $349.99
International shipping weight – 12 kg
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AmScope-Microscope Kit with Metal Arm and Base

AmScope | Microscope Kit with Metal Arm and Base – $39.98
International shipping weight – 3 kg
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Over at PsychCentral, psychologist Mary Hartwell-Walker has an interesting  take on play: that it is the “work of children”. “While they play, our children are learning new skills, defining themselves as individuals, and practicing relationships with others and with the physical world,” says Hartwell-Walker. It’s a useful rule of thumb for parents for  selecting toys, too. Like their future jobs, play should pay off, so parents should invest on the right toys.

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