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Friday 2 September 2016

Buying Toddler Toys: Age, Ability or Interest?

Buying Toddler Toys: age, ability or interest.  The Wicked Uncle Challenge

Choosing toys for your little one (or someone else's little one!) can be a bit of a minefield sometimes. As a parent, you usually have a pretty good idea of the kind of things your child is interested in, but it isn't always easy to find something that is also suitable for their age - especially with regards to younger children and babies. If you are also interested in child development (like me!) and can't help but plan for your child's 'next steps' in learning - it can get even trickier...especially if some areas and stages of development are hit earlier than average in terms of age, but all of the 'toys' and activities you think could help build on their skills are marketed at children much older - usually for health and safety reasons.

Now, I'm not disputing the health and safety laws surrounding toys for children (that is, those marketed at age 14 and below). They are undoubtedly there for a very good reason - and rather than me regurgitate all of those reasons and considerations in a blog post, I will direct you towards a very helpful article from babycentre which explains it all really well: Babycentre Toy Safety

Still, I can't help but think that with regards to some toys - it's okay to have a discretionary judgement call from the parents/carers, especially if you know that you will be supervising your child in any case, and you are pretty sure (from common sense) that the toy in question isn't going to cause harm. After all, every child is different. We all develop at different rates and we all have different interests...shouldn't we be able to take that knowledge of our children and make those choices as we see fit?

I am definitely guilty of doing so. For example, around the time of Arthur's 1st birthday his obsession with our Hoover had grown to the point he would do everything he could to find and attempt to use it. A real Hoover. Now I'm all for a bit of role play and building on their imaginations, but this is a product definitely not recommended for 11 month old children. So we bought him one of these:


The thing is, this toy is only for children aged 3 and above...but we made a judgement call. This was better than him trying to use the real Henry Hoover, he is always supervised and without it we wouldn't have got this little gem of a video of him hoovering to "I want to break free" on his birthday (just like his Grandpa - except I'll keep that particular video private!)...

A video posted by Sarah - Arthurwears (@arthurwears) on

So, my question is: Should we buy our children toys based on age, ability or interest?  Am I only looking at older age groups because I just haven't come across interesting, exciting or developmentally appropriate toys for his actual age?? 

We decided to take The Wicked Uncle Challenge and find out!

Wicked Uncle say that they are the home of brilliant children's presents, with lots of "interesting, fun and unusual presents". Looking at their website, I have to agree! There are so many amazing toys and activities on there, I only wish they had a 'wish list' facility because there are some brilliant presents that I would LOVE for myself in their 'cool stuff for older children' (we all know that's me!) section.

The great thing is that you can choose via age (yes, all toys are based on health and safety age guidelines where given), category - which is just another way of searching via your child's interest, popularity and for those of us who don't buy into the gender stereotyping ( and those of us who do) you can choose to search for boy/girl/all. 

The 'Wicked Uncle challenge' was to get someone who doesn't have children to buy our child a gift from the website to see whether they loved it. I felt pretty confident about this - having already had a browse myself I thought that they would be hard-pressed not to find something he would like with this one. With Arthur being 20 months, and therefore at the older end of age 1, we decided that toys aimed at 2 year olds would be the best place to look. There were quite a few things I saw that I had hoped might be chosen for him (admittedly though, some of these are for older children but are totally in line with his current interests):

wicked Uncle lion anisnap watch no bucklewicked uncle kitchen set little cookwicked uncle smartmax lighthouse magnetic building

They also had an amazing John Deere ride on tractor which I considered buying anyway - before realising that we probably don't have the space at the moment! (I will make space eventually!)

So what did Arthur receive from Wicked Uncle, and what did he think? Well he's too young to write a blog post ( apart from that Diary of a 9 month old he did a year ago lol!)  so here is a short unboxing video so you can see how we got on...

What do you take into consideration when buying toys for toddlers? Would you ever buy a toy meant for an older child? Under what circumstances?

I'd love to know what you think - please leave me a comment below on your experiences!

Sarah x


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