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Posted on Sep 17, 2013

Childhood Staples | Must Have Toys To Invest In

Childhood Staples | Must Have Toys To Invest In

Some toys are childhood staples that should adorn every home. If you’re stumped on what to buy a child for Christmas or their birthday, see if they’re missing anything from this list of essentials.

Marble Madness

Galt Marble Run £19.99

Galt Marble Run £19.99

Marble runs are great for developing problem solving, planning and fine motor skills.

Since these are designed to be taken apart, and put together again in a variety of layouts, they tend not to be the sturdiest of toys.

But they do offer flexible fun that everyone in the family can enjoy.

Cheap versions will fall apart, and the individual pieces will lose their shape, so go for a trusted brand like this model from Galt (£19.99).

For younger children look out for the awesome Trix Tracks sets from Wonderworld.

Trix Tracks Spin And Swirl £33.99

Trix Tracks Spin And Swirl £33.99

Eat, Drink & Play Merrily

Please avoid this wasteful, disappointing pattern that seems to be the destiny for so many parents (me included):

1. Children like playing with toy kitchen at playgroup so parent researches options for home >>>

2. Parent flinches at cost of kitchen similar to one found at playgroup so parent buys cheaper model >>>

3. Child loves cheaper model as it comes with billions of accessories >>>

4. 10 minutes after assembly parent realizes annoying cheaper kitchen is so lightweight it is now scooting across the room when child tries to play with it >>>

5. 3 days later stickers are beginning to peel off >>>

6. 2 weeks in and parent is so sick of the sight of hundreds and hundreds of pieces of plastic cutlery >>>

7. Parent begins researching better quality, more attractive kitchens.

For a top quality plastic kitchen look at Little Tikes. I love that most of their kitchens have gender neutral colouring, although I am not so keen on the models that sing songs about cooking and nutrition (#irritating).

KidKraft are great for beautifully styled wooden kitchens, and Plum have recently launched a range too.

If you don’t have space for a floor standing kitchen. there are some beautiful wooden table top stoves available.

For play food go for Melissa and Doug or Tidlo by John Crane.

There Is No Substitute For Scalextric

Every child, at some point in their lives, should own a Scalextric.Scalextric

Putting together the track, only to find it positioned too far away from the plug socket, relocating it, then making your cars whizz off on the tight curves – every childhood needs to experience this joy.

But take my advice, and take it very seriously. There is NO adequate substitute for Scalextric.

Cheaper versions are a complete waste of time, money and plastic. Step away from the bargain basement and stump up the money for a proper set.

Every Home Should Have A Castle

Playmobil Falcon Knights Castle, £80

Playmobil Falcon Knights Castle, £80

Wooden, plastic, fold away or permanently ready to play, it makes no difference.

Castles open up imaginative play and make a fun alternative to a dolls house.

Older children are more inclined to play with a castle than a dolls house, so you can get a few more years out of it, and with the addition of the right accessories, they are perfect for boys and girls.

Playmobil lead the way for plastic castles, and if you look on eBay you will see their sets hold their value well.

LEGO And Lots Of It

The big sets advertised on TV are the presents that will give the ‘wow’ factor, but stock up on plenty of generic LEGO, making sure you have wheels, windows, doors and a variety of sizes of bricks. You can buy LEGO tubs, or if you’re happy to buy used, you can get LEGO by the kilo on eBay.

Smaller Toys Worth A Mention

Also worth investing in:

Whiteboard – A huge, good quality whiteboard will cost around £15, great fun for younger children to draw all over, and excellent for organising older children by writing up their daily routine, homework etc.

Doctors Kit – Avoid characters as your child will grow out of the TV show long before they lose interest in being a doctor. Go for a kit with a substantial, well built box and a few quality play instruments, rather than a cheap plastic set with dozens of accessories.

Puppet Theatre – Kids love to put on a show and a puppet theatre provides endless present possibilities as friends and family can buy new puppet characters.

Camera – Depending on your child’s age you can buy a kid-friendly camera, or a basic digital camera. Get the photos printed out and keep them in your child’s own scrapbook for storing their childhood memories.

Music Player – The Sons love having their own music players and have stocked them with their favourite film soundtracks.

Chess Set – Invest in a good quality, wooden chess set, preferably with its own storage case. Avoid plastic sets that break, or any sets branded with favourite characters or TV shows as these will be quickly outgrown.

Train Set – This is a toy that will grow with your child, and you can add little bits to keep their interest up.

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