Are the ages on toys matched to development?

Are the ages on toys matched to development?

Most of us have purchased a 2+ toy for a 2nd birthday or a 0m+ toy for a newborn and then were disappointed to see the child [fill in the blank]: chewed on it, threw it, didn’t like it or didn’t use it as intended.  Was it a bad toy?

The problem might actually be with the stated age on the box and when it was given. Did you know that the ages on toy packages are not matched to skill development? They are first and foremost a safety rating.

-Interested in toys matched to milestone and skill development?  Learn more about Please and Carrots.-

For example, some storytelling cubes have a stated age of 2+. However, according to Dr. Susan Bartell, a child psychologist, regular blocks are better for 2 year olds and story blocks are more developmentally appropriate for children 4+. Since these story telling blocks have no small pieces, they are deemed safe for  a 2 year old. On the flip side, some toys rated 3+, such as some “play pretend” food sets, are suggested for older children due to small parts, even though younger children love playing pretend and emulating adults. If you can find food or household type toys for a child 18-21 months, you’ll see your child really gravitate towards these and learn from them.

In addition, children can play with the same toys in different ways as they grow. Blocks can be held or banged together early on, stacked as motor skills develop and then used to build houses and other structures as they grow.

A common reaction can be “this toy’s age is too young for my child”. However, if you can look at the ages for what they are (a safety rating), and allow your child’s development to inform when and how they play with toys, you’ll see that they will get so much more out of a toy they are ready for.

So how do you find a toy that’s appropriate and will enhance learning and development?  A good starting point is understanding what is happening at every stage.  The CDC has a great resource to learn about milestones by age here.  Recommendations from trusted sources like your pediatrician are great.  Reviews of toys can tell you a lot as often other customers will say “my child just chewed on it” or “my son didn’t like it at all” may be an indication of a toy that is too young or too old for the stated age.  If you have specific questions about development and toys, please send us a note at and we would be happy to help you.

Note: All of the toys included in Please and Carrots boxes are carefully chosen to be both safety AND developmentally appropriate.

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