blogpost choosing toys

EcoSmart tips for your toys shopping list

Choosing the toys that our child would be playing with can sometimes be overwhelming.

On the shelves there are thousands of toys claiming to make our kids smarter and to gear them up for a soon to be career within the coolest institutions (NASA, MIT, yourfavoritecompanynamehere).

Even though these toys may play a role in your child’s education, you can end up spending a lot of money and stockpiling a ton of clutter but not receiving a lot of educational value.

So what to do? Should we give up buying toys to our little one? No, absolutely no; but we should make use of a certain level of wisdom to ensure that our pick is safe for our children and good for our planet.

Safety first when choosing toys

It goes without saying, but you want to make sure that the toys you select for your child does not contain BPA, phthalate, lead or any other toxic material or paint. For that, make sure that you choose a reputable manufacturer, respecting EU regulations (look for the “CE” mention on the box).

Wooden = durable and sensory

Wooden toys are a must when choosing toys. Children can be rough on their toys, but you can rest assured with wood as it hard for them to be damaged beyond the basic scratch or dent. Also the natural textures of wooden toys stimulates your kid’s senses as they invite to touch, feel and explore.

Preferably, pick toys made of sustainable wood and natural fibers such as wool and cotton.

Okay, it may be impossible to completely avoid plastics (in fact there are some really nice toys made of plastic), but then make sure you choose wisely and keep it to minimum.

Easy on batteries

Some toys do so many things that kids do not have much to do. Avoid those toys that are designed to amuse and distract children instead of engaging them.

If your child can sit and watch the toy “perform”, then it is likely more entertaining than educational.

The more children have to use their minds and bodies to make something work, the more they learn.

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle

If you are serious about your desire to preserve the environment, you may want to consider buying less toys and using them more. For that several solutions:

  • Give a second life to your children’s toys when they are done playing with them. You can sell or donate them. Also consider buying high quality second hand toys
  • Think of the joys of non-toy: an empty box, plastic measuring cups, metal mixing bowls can provide hours of fun (and skill building)
  • Rent toys instead of buying them so you are sure to always have toys adapted to your child’s age without the clutter (that’s why you are surfing on KouniToys website…no?)

Toys that encourage open play and trigger imagination

Look for toys that can be used in many different ways in the sense that your kid can play different games with them.  Toys that your kid would be able to take apart, put back together, build up, pull out, and put in. You will quickly notice that a block becomes a spaceship or the nesting cup transforms into an alien craft.

As your child’s imagination is taking off, offer toys that your child can use as he creates and acts out stories. Pretend play is a great way for children to develop language skills and the ability to sequence (put events in a logical order).

Toys that encourage exploration and problem-solving

Select toys that give kids a chance to figure something out on their own (or with a little coaching). That would help build their logical thinking skills and help them become persistent problem-solvers. The more they play, the more they will develop and practice these new skills.

Any other ideas? Do not hesitate to share your own tips for choosing toys in the comments below.