I recently received an e-mail from a customer whose Father in Law wanted to buy some new toys to be kept in their house for when their one and a half year old grand daughter came to visit. My customer was looking for some recommendations which she could pass on to her father in law.
I love getting questions like these and I know every child is different, as is visits to granny and grampa’s house, so my reply was quite general. But, I thought I’d copy it onto a blog, in case there’s other grandparents out there who want to have a few special toys in their home.
Before I start, there’s some factors that need to be stated.
- If you are a grandparent, you need to choose toys wisely, as unless the child/children are in your home a lot, these toys won’t get played with as much as the child’s own toys and so you want them to last for several years. The last thing you want is for the child to grow out of them within a year (unless you have more grand children to grow into them, which is often the case)
- Ideally, you want to choose toys that the child doesn’t already have, so there’s a novelty factor when they come to visit.
- You need to think about the purpose of the toys. Are they to entertain the children when you try and serve up Sunday lunch to the rest of the family, or have a chat with your own grown up children. Or, are they toys and games you want to sit down and do with your grandchild. So, for example, if it’s the former then you’d probably choose toys that the child can engage imaginatively with and you wouldn’t choose a book or hard puzzle which the child needs help with.
- Many grandparents have had ‘toy-free’ houses for years and the thought of introducing lots of toys into an environment that is tidy, can be a bit daunting. Can I remind you that you may only have to have toys for six or seven years. For the child’s first year of visits, they will probably be entertained by items that mummy or daddy can bring with them in the baby bag. Then, when they get a little bit more inquisitive they will look for something more to entertain them. If you want to spare your best china and ornaments, now is the time to buy some toys! This will continue for four or five year and then, they will be happy to turn up on your doorstep with a bag of items from their own house to entertain them. My daughters are five and seven and they bring books and colouring books when we visit Granny and Grandad. I know other kids who bring Lego.
- Finally, before you start forking out on buying toys, have you checked your attic!? You might be surprised to find some toys that your children played with, that can come down for the next generation.
Bearing these in mind and the fact that the child in question was a one and a half year old girl, here’s the toys that I suggested the grandparents might like to purchase.
- I really like the Doorbell house for this age. It’s great for imaginative play and fine motor skills. It’s small and can be packed away easily and the doorbell noses aren’t too loud. It’s also gender neutral, so if grandsons appear in the future, they can enjoy it just as much.
- The Djeco Duo Puzzles are brilliant. Each box has several 2 piece tough cardboard puzzles that match for example mum animals with baby animals or animal homes with animals. They are gorgeous designs and come in a lovely tough box for easy storage. These are puzzles that she will need help with initially.
- If you like reading to her, I’d recommend a couple of board books. If she’s gentle with books, then the Acorn Wood lift the flap books are lovely, otherwise, I’d recommend the Monster Scared of Children under It’s Bed and Do Dogs Wear Clogs? books. My niece, who will be 2 in August is loves her ‘Water Wow‘ book. Simply fill the pen with water and colour the pages to discover colours and patterns underneath. Within a couple of minutes the page is dry and white again, ready to be done over and over.
- If you want a wooden puzzle, I’d recommend the Djeco Nature and Co Cube Puzzle. It has 4 four cubes and depending on what side is up, you can make several pictures from it. It’s the kind of puzzle that she will need help with now but she will still love in a couple of years.
- I’m a big fan of magnetic toys for this age group. I stock 2 magnetic fishing games/puzzles and I also love Abby and Emma – where your child can dress these wooden dolls and learn what clothes match etc.
- If you are always eating or having cups of tea when she is over, having some play food will help your grand daughter feel part of the gang in preparing and serving. The wooden tea set that I stock is gorgeous. My girls got the felt food when they were her age and they still play with it, and if it gets griming, it can be washed.
- Finally, although not really a traditional girl’s toy, if she doesn’t have a train set, having one at Grandpa’s house could be a real treat. I stock a beginners one that Melissa and Doug make which would be more than adequate. If you buy a wooden train set, you can add to it as your child and family grow as all wooden tracks and trains work/fit together.
It’s very hard to know what to buy for this age group and it depends a lot on the child. A lot of toys that she would probably love are recommended for children aged 3+. This is just a precautionary safety standard that a lot of people will ignore, especially if their child isn’t one who puts things in their mouth. It is nearly always ignored when a second child is added to a family as it’s not fair to put the older child’s toys away when a baby arrives. If you have already gone through a set of toys for babies, you probably don’t want to invest in another set of toys that will last less than a year before she grows out of them, so choose wisely and hopefully these ones will last a good bit longer.
I hope you all get to enjoy your extended family time as much as my family do.