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With Christmas fast approaching, parents of young children everywhere are hitting the high street in an attempt to find the perfect gift.
But as the debate surrounding childhood obesity – and the lack of educational value of toys continues to intensify, parents are being advised to think more carefully about what they buy this year.
Five Key Questions
Little Nut Tree Toys (www.littlenuttreetoys.co.uk), an online retailer of high quality, educational wooden toys and playthings for children aged 0-7, is offering parents and child-carers its expert insight on the top five questions parents should ask to ensure responsible gift buying, and explaining why toys made from wood make the ideal present.
1) Is this toy safe for my child? When it comes to children, safety is of paramount importance. Look for toys that don’t have sharp edges or small parts that could be put in the mouth. In addition, make sure they are tested to the CE European Safety Standard and that you follow recommended age guidelines which should be shown on all children’s toys.
2) Will this toy help my child to be active? Your child needs a range of toys and it is easy to buy those that just rely on visual stimulation and noise. Activity toys develop coordination and improve their motor skills and balance. Balls and beanbags are good first toys. They can then move on to ride on toys they have to push themselves and trailers they can pull. Older children can move on to skipping ropes, bicycles and wooden balancing boards which are great for indoor and outdoor play.
3) Is there any educational value to this toy? Toys don’t have to be complicated or electronic to be educational. The best toys are fun but help different aspects of your child’s development. Creative toys like crayons stimulate self-expression and self-confidence. Books and tapes help children with literacy and numeracy. Puzzles improve problem solving skills. Building blocks and beads can help with coordination. Also, try and find a toy that you can help them play with as children tend to learn best from their parents and guardians and also enjoy the toy a lot more with added interaction.
4) Will this toy last or will it break? One of the wonderful things about wooden toys is their durability. While modern plastic toys can easily be destroyed, wooden toys are designed to withstand the rigours of many years hard play and can even be passed down to the next generation if given proper care.
5) Is this toy environmentally friendly? Another advantage of naturally made wooden toys is that they offer an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic toys. Many wooden toys are now made from sustainable forestation and can be recycled when no longer used, or can be kept for passing on to future generations. They also don’t contain the chemical ‘phthalates’ which is used to make plastic mouldable. Research is still divided as to whether this chemical has serious health effects. One thing is for certain, wooden toys don’t contain chemicals which are then inadvertently chewed and sucked on by young children and babies.
About Little Nut Tree Toys
Jo Nicholson is passionate about play. She launched the Little Nut Tree Toys website in 2006 to promote toys that will help children learn new skills through fun and stimulating play. Jo was frustrated with the premium prices some educational toys cost, particularly those aimed at children with disabilities. Because of this, part of the offering of the website is to identify which toys are ‘special needs friendly’, with a major focus on Dyspraxia. With this in mind, she teamed up with paediatric occupational therapist Hilary Tidey to identify which toys in the range specifically help with children’s special needs. The benefit of this is that customers can immediately identify what play value the toys offer, e.g. HE = Hand Eye Coordination, BN = Brain Nurture. Each toy is identified with the relevant play value and also whether they are special needs friendly.
The website offers more than just a range of toys. It also offers advice to parents, a range of play suggestions and an area where parents can chat to each other.
She says, “As a parent, I’m keen to give my daughter the best start possible. Not all toys cost the earth and finding good toys she can enjoy and learn from is invaluable. Having fun is the best way for anyone to learn and a toy you can play with alongside your child is something special.”