Navigating the mall as you try to find gifts for your preschooler can be something akin to trying to find your way through the jungle if you don’t have a plan in place prior to going. It can be tempting to buy the first toy you stumble across just to avoid dealing with the hectic mall atmosphere, but that will likely only bring you moments of peace. After all, no one wants to give a toy only to have it sit in the corner because the child isn’t old enough to play with it or is too old to care about it anymore. Navigate the toy jungle with this guide.
- Dress up clothes – Choose dress up clothes that don’t have small buttons or anything that might be considered a choking hazard for preschoolers. Many of the dress up outfits use hook and loop closures, which is perfect for young children because it’s easy to put on and take off these outfits.
- Beginner doll house – Dollhouses for younger children will not have a lot of small parts, but will still allow her to make up pretend scenarios for her dolls. Many times you will see her mimic real life with her doll family. She is using what she knows and that is developmentally appropriate.
- Baby dolls – There are tiny dolls for dollhouses and then there are baby dolls for carrying around and caring for. Preschoolers are ready for a basic baby doll. She’s not yet ready for the expensive 18” doll at this point, just one that she can take around with her wherever she goes. Her dolly will most likely be dropped on the floor and probably won’t be well cared for, which is normal for this age group, so you want to steer clear of the more expensive dolls. As she gets older and becomes more responsible, she’ll be ready for a pricier, more high-maintenance doll.
- Trucks – Pushing trucks and cars around and making engine sounds provides a lot of entertainment for preschoolers. Let him imagine he is behind the wheel of a big truck or a bulldozer as he bulldozes his blocks around the living room.
- Electronic learning toys – Toys like LeapFrog, which hook up to your television and allow the kids to play games, are great for preschool aged kids. The kids think they are just playing games, but they’re also learning to count, recognize their colors, spell and many other things. Electronic toys also teach hand/eye coordination.
- Sand table – Sand tables provide a tactile experience and a blank canvas for preschoolers. Any structure can be built in the sand and the kids can learn to sift the sand and pack it down. Then there’s the fun of smashing it and starting all over again.
- Beginner scooter – Not all scooters are appropriate for preschoolers, but there are beginner scooters that have four wheels and are more stable. These don’t require a lot of balance in order to ride on them, making them ideal for the younger children. Scooters will also encourage him to get outside and exercise.
- Bike with training wheels – If you are thinking about buying your child his first bike, then you need to make sure that you buy the right size. Typically there are guides at the store that will allow you to compare your child’s height to a chart telling you what size bike would be a good choice. Many of the bigger toy stores will let you test out a bike as well.
- Play kitchen – Both boys and girls love playing house with a play kitchen. The models are getting more sophisticated these days, and truly mimic real life. Some sets come with play food to go into the cupboards and refrigerator. Kids will really enjoy making each other food and pretending to play restaurant and other things.
- Kid sized cleaning tools – These tools can be toy tools or real ones. Kids actually enjoy cleaning at this age, and love to help mommy and daddy clean the house. Toy vacuum cleaners are available in many varieties. Some make no noise and will actually pick up small toys, and some making almost as much noise as a real vacuum. Kids typically love these type of toys because they’re so lifelike, which allows them to imitate Mom and Dad.