5 Best Toys for Child Development
Our Blog: Word on the Sidewalk
5 Best Toys for Child Development
Being a parent is the best and hardest role of my life — I know I’m far from the first mom or dad to feel this way. I was prepared to be thrilled, tired, overwhelmed, overjoyed and eternally doused in drool. What no one could tell me was how worried I would be. When I was pregnant, I thought, “I can’t wait until my twins are born and I can stop worrying.” HA! I now know that having kids means always thinking about someone else—forever. Sometimes this makes you smile during a terrible day. Other times it makes you drag your husband out of bed at 2 A.M. to move a bookcase because an earthquake could make it squash your babies. Never mind that you live in Chicago and the last noticeable earthquake was the year YOU were born (and had zero fatalities).
I stumble across new concerns daily. Should my boys be sitting up by now? Rolling over? When do they start talking? What about walking? Hold on, let me pause the panicked Google search to make sure they are breathing. Now maybe I should breathe.
Worrying about critical development milestones is an especially easy way to lose sleep, and parents need sleep! Toys and gear that support development bring so much relief. When I know products help my kids, I can relax and enjoy time with them. Working at Radio Flyer makes me feel better informed as I decide which toys will help my kids learn, grow and play. Here are the five rides I plan to introduce to encourage development.
The moment my boys are learning to walk, our Classic Walker Wagon will be ready to go. I love this product because it encourages development in two critical ways. First, it helps babies learn to walk without falling forward. It helps them stay upright and steady by offering the right amount of resistance. Many wheeled products move too fast to help babies improve their walking skills. Children are able to push the Classic Walker Wagon, but it provides enough pushback to keep them from falling. Second, it is made of wood. I had no idea children came with so much plastic. Bottle parts and toys and swings, oh my! I know plastic often makes sense, but in this case, the stability and weight of wood are ideal for new walkers. The wood—plus some metal—adds important material variety for my kids to explore. Bonus—this toy is beautiful. I’m a designer. My taste trends towards simplicity and beauty. I love adding a toy that makes my house look better, not more cluttered. I’m never surprised to see this wagon as a prop in interior design magazines or on trendy gift guides.
When my boys are toddlers, the Wheelbarrow will introduce balance and coordination. The single wheel is easy to maneuver. They can also develop dexterity as they load up and dump important treasures. I love that my boys will grow physical skills and engage in dramatic play. They can pretend to garden, do construction work, or transport their toys for any game. The simple design encourages open-ended imaginative play: a critical element of child development.
After walking and pushing/pulling, pedaling a tricycle is a critical milestone. Most beginner trikes are low to the ground for stability. This is great for little riders, but a literal (back) pain for parents who hunch over to push kids along. Thank goodness for push trikes; no wonder parents love them! Our 4-in-1 Stroll ‘N Trike allows babies starting at 9 months feel the freedom of trike riding, and parents can push it with ease - just like a stroller. Once it is time to pedal, remove a few accessories so your child can learn while you steer. (Radio Flyer’s Precision Control Steering allows parents to control the directions - phew!) Your child can take all the time he or she needs to learn to pedal while you comfortably push. Plus, our new and improved design addresses years of mom feedback. The trike now has a footrest, higher adjustable canopy and wider wheels.
Scooters are a sidewalk staple, and learning to scoot takes quite a bit of coordination. The My First Scooter Sport is the best beginner scooter for a few reasons. The main one is the kick path. This is the area where a child’s foot travels. Many scooters have two wheels in the back: the EXACT spot a child’s foot goes when they push off. This causes them to kick the wheel and trip. Our scooters have one wheel in back to create enough room for a kid's foot. The extra wide deck is also great for stability. They will be scooting around the driveway in no time — better get ready to chase them!
Balance bikes are more and more popular for a good reason: they are by far the best—and fastest—way to learn to ride a bike. Balance bikes, like our Classic Glide ’N Go Balance Bike, do not have pedals. Kids use their feet to first walk, then run, then balance while gliding. You skip the unsteady stage of running and holding their bike seat. Once kids master a balance bike, they smoothly transition to a two wheeler. Now your only worry is reminding them to wear a helmet!
I can’t believe my boys will someday ride off down the sidewalk. Time really does fly. For now, I’ll try to worry a little less when I enjoy the baby laughs as they try to sit up; those are enough milestones for today.