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Meaningful toys for children aged 2 and above: gift ideas for small children

Is your niece’s, nephew’s or godchild’s birthday just around the corner? Or are you simply looking for a really good gift idea for a small child? Of course, you don’t want to give them just any old thing! It has to be something that the child will be pleased with and want to play with for a long time, doesn’t it?  But fun isn’t the only important factor to consider when it comes to a child’s toy. After all, children like putting things in their mouths – and various chemicals can be harmful for them. And what if the parents don’t approve of the birthday present, for example? Read on to find out what you need to think about when selecting a gift for a child.

What do I need to think about when I want to give a child a gift?

If you want to gift a child in your family or circle of friends something to play with, there are a couple of things you need to consider. After all, it’s not your own child, and the toy may not be suitable for the recipient, for example. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Could the child’s parents disapprove of my gift?

No matter how great a gift idea is, if the child’s parents don’t think it so, there’s no point buying it. Depending on their parenting style, some families may restrict themselves to e.g. educational toys that will help the child develop. Perhaps the child’s parents also want to bring up their child in an unpretentious way, and would much prefer a small birthday gift?

Perhaps the parents don’t want their child to play with gender-specific toys, and they do not think that a pink doll is at all suitable for their little girl. The same naturally applies to boys. And this is something you should respect. Even if you have the best of intentions, if you are unsure about a game or a toy, speak with the family whose child you want to buy a gift. In the worst case, simply come up with another gift idea.

Is the gift idea age appropriate?

A two-year-old child won’t be interested in a baby’s toy, and a baby won’t know what to do with cars whizzing about – no matter how cool they are. To be on the safe side, check the recommended age range of a toy. In Europe, toy manufacturers have to print a recommendation on a game or toy. Of course, this recommendation isn’t written in stone. Depending on the child’s abilities, you could gift a 15-month-old child a toy intended for an 18-month-old – if you think it appropriate. Make your decision based on the child’s development, or ask the parents.

What isn’t a good idea, however, is to gift a two-year-old a toy intended for six-year-olds. Such an age gap is too big, and the toy or game could contain parts that are easily swallowed. Toys intended for two-year-olds are inspected carefully und must never contain anything that could be swallowed during play.

Toys for children older than 36 months are identified accordingly with a separate, additional label. Special symbols and texts indicate any potential hazards that could occur during play.

Does the child’s sibling already have a similar toy?

If so, does the child you want to buy a gift for enjoy playing with it? And if so, then the child will probably be pleased to receive something similar. If the child you want to buy a gift for does not enjoy playing with it, can you find out why? Perhaps they don’t like the colour or shape, or the way the toy feels? Maybe it’s the material or fabric the toy is made of? This is something you can then try looking out for in similar toys. Or you could ask the parents. 

Tip: Older siblings can be helpful when coming up with gift ideas for a birthday or Christmas, etc. Ask them if they know what their brother or sister would like as a present. 

Perhaps the child already has another toy in that range?

If so, find out what the child already owns. Which individual figures or sets does it already have? Maybe there is one specific addition that would be ideal for the child? If the child is older, would like a specific part for the game or toy? With such sets, there is often a large selection to choose from – it’s best to ask the family which toy in a particular set the child doesn’t have yet. They are sure to know.

The good thing about toy ranges is that they can always be added to. Or in other words, the next birthday present is already in the bag! If the child you want to buy a gift for doesn’t yet have any parts of a set, you can simply start them off by picking out the one that appeals to you the most.
Take the Toddys, for example. Every one of the toy figures would be a suitable introductory toy. You can easily coordinate the various characters according to the child in question. Is the little one a whirlwind? Then Jim Jumpy would be the perfect character! Or perhaps the child likes to go on journeys of discovery? Then Mio Mounty or Zoe Zoomy would be an ideal partner!  

Does the gift idea have to be an educational toy?

Before you consider a specific gift, remember that toys for small children can provide more than fun. Educational toys encourage the development of a child through play. While playing, the child can learn or build on specific skills. This is always a big plus for a child’s toy and should also be taken into consideration when choosing a gift. Along with the fun factor, of course.

Is the child able to explore the toy themselves, and perhaps learn something from it? Perhaps the toy you’ve chosen will boost their hand-eye coordination. Or help them practice their motor skills? Either way, an educational toy is always a good gift idea.

How can I tell whether a toy is harmless?

If the selected toy bears a CE marking, you can rest assured. In Europe, only safe toys bearing this marking are allowed on the market. Among other things, the marking indicates that the respective toy is free from harmful plasticisers and chemical substances. So it’s not a problem if a child puts their toy car in their mouth, for example. 

If you have your eye on a gift which could potentially cause an allergic reaction, you should always err on the side of caution. If the present is associated with food or certain materials that are known to cause allergies it is an especially good idea to consult the child’s parents. They will give you the go-ahead for giving e.g. a cool sweet dispenser as a birthday present.

What are plasticisers?

Many toys contain what are known as plasticisers (phthalates). Phthalates are primarily used to manufacture plastic toys to make the plastic flexible. It is only when plasticisers are added that plastics which have not been warmed up become flexible. However, plasticisers are not harmless. Many phthalates are actually harmful to health and can cause e.g. liver damage. This is why some types of plasticisers are prohibited. Toys may only be sold if they are free from poisonous plasticisers.

In conclusion: what can I gift a two-year-old child?

No matter how good a gift idea may be, always speak to the child’s parents first. If they are happy for the child to receive such a gift, then you can think about what exactly would make a suitable present. With the right gift idea, not only will you make the child happy, you can also help them to learn through play. Keyword: educational toy. 

Our Toddys, for example, are perfect for children’s hands. Not only because they are free from plasticisers and other harmful substances, but also as far as international product safety is concerned.

Their various functions and options for play make them particularly valuable from an educational standpoint. With music and sound effects, they always bring an enormous amount of fun to any play room. And what mother or father could have anything against the cute Toddys?

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