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Toys for Tots 101

Michelle Z.
MICHELLE Z.
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Take the stress out of holiday shopping! Join Michelle Zayas of Green Piñata Toys ( www.greenpinatatoys.com) for a Q&A all about selecting toys for your little one. Michelle can help guide you towards developmentally appropriate toys that both you and baby will love! She can also answer any questions you might have about baby's learning process.

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Have your own question?

Ask Michelle, our Toy Expert!

Message Michelle
MICHELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Our Q&A starts now!
TINYHOOD, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD

Welcome, Michelle! Brainstorming what to put under the tree for baby? Want to more know about the role of toys in language development? Just looking to hit your holiday shopping groove? Whatever your situation, Michelle is here to help.

STEPHANIE

Hi Michelle! My daughter is 8.5 months going on to 9 months in the next couple of weeks. Can you recommend some toys that are developmentally appropriate for her age?

Michelle
MICHELLE

Hi Stephanie,
At this age children are becoming much more aware of the world around them, and want to explore more and more. Teethers are a great toy to have on hand, also musical instruments are usually a great hit. Little ones at this age love to make noise! My guy loves these egg shakers from Haba: https://greenpinatatoys.com/rent-a-toy/shakin-eggs
Shape sorters will also become more interesting to her as she gets a little older, and her fine motor skills become more developed.
In general, toys that give some sort of feedback to them, crinkle, bells, reflections are my go to for toy ideas!
Happy Playing and Learning!

Our Q&A is now over
TINYHOOD, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD

Thank you, Michelle! Green Piñata Toy Share is a service for delivering a variety of safe and educational toys right to your door. When you’re done, send them back and get a new set geared right for your child’s developmental stage!

Check out Green Piñata Toy Share here: https://greenpinatatoys.com. New customers get 50% off your first month with code TINYHOOD50 or use code PINATA15 for 15% off a 3 month or 6 month gift subscription. Perfect for the holiday season!

MICHELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Age based toys?
PAULA, PARENT OF 5 YEAR OLD

Our daughter will be 4 in March so for xmas we were looking for toys for 4+ but a lot of the toys are for 4-6 or 4-8 yr olds. It seems like a pretty big difference between what a 4 year old can do vs a 6 or 8 yr old. Maybe how they play with them is what is different. Is there any harm is getting a toy for a child that is meant for older kids?

Michelle
MICHELLE

Hi Paula,
Many of the ages listed on toys are based on the size of the pieces and conveying to parents that there are smaller pieces that are hazardous for little ones. They also vary in age ranges because children develop at such different rates. There may be some toys that you see that seem like your daughter can do without a problem, but it is labeled for 5-8, as long as you think that it is something that she can handle, will enjoy, and is safe, then I wouldn't focus too much on the age description on the box. You know her much better than any toy manufacturer does, use that Mommy instinct! :)
Green Pinata Toys also offers toys up to age 5 (again keeping in mind that this is based on general development, not specific to one child). She could explore different types of toys without the commitment of purchasing a little of everything until you find some she loves. You can check out what we offer here: https://greenpinatatoys.com/rent-toys
Stay tuned to the end of the live event for a code for 50% off your first month subscription!

PAULA

That makes sense! Thank you!

MICHELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Rotating Toys?
SAM, PARENT OF 6 YEAR OLD, 4 YEAR OLD

We have a lot of toys and I have heard about systems where people put some toys away, rotating what is out for their child to play with. Would you recommend this system? How often should we be switching what is available?

Michelle
MICHELLE

Hi Sam.
Such a great question!
I found that with my own son when all of his toys are out for him to use he bounces around from toy to toy very quickly and doesn't truly "play" with anything. I started by taking away the toys that he seemed to barely ever play with, by just removing some of the extra clutter seemed to help him focus more on the toys he did want to play with. I would then pull a few more each week until he had about 8-10 toys to play with (He was the only grandchild for the first 3 years of his life, so he has way too many toys!!). I tried to keep toys out that had a common theme; building, cooking, cars, etc. I would then watch to see when he seemed to get bored of the toys that were available, or seemed less interested in them, typically about three weeks to a month.
This approach not only helped him focus on actually playing with the toys for a longer period of time, but it also helped reduce the clutter in my house, and when it came time to clean up the toys he didn't get as overwhelmed with the amount of mess he had to clean up!
Green Pinata Toys runs on the same concept, except you don't have to worry about finding a "hiding" place for the toys you pull, but rather send them back to us and we will send you a new shipment of toys that you can hand pick for your little one! You can even create themed boxes! Check back at the end of the session for a discount code for 50% off your first month subscription!
Happy Playing and Learning!!

SAM

Thank you so much. This was very helpful!

Michelle
MICHELLE

Glad to help! :)

MICHELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Electronic Toys
GRACE, PARENT OF 4 YEAR OLD

Hi Michelle, I have a question about electronic toys as we have tried to stay away from having a lot of these toys in the house. As we make a Christmas list, I am wondering if we should continue to stay away from things with beeping/lights, etc. or are there some types that are beneficial to her learning? We have a 2.5 year old. Thanks!

Michelle
MICHELLE

Hi Grace.
Great question. The lights and sounds can be super tempting to purchase because they seem like they will be so much fun (I am guilty of having a few at my house that were gifts, but I have slowly gotten rid of many of them). What seems like are super fun and exciting lights and sounds are actually just the toy doing most of the work for your child. I prefer toys that are open ended and help my children learn through discovery. Now, don't get me wrong, I realize that electronics are part of life these days, and our children will learn how to use computers and phones better than we do, but for now I would hold off on lots of electronics. Let her enjoy being a kid!

Check out this blog post about playing your way into Harvard: https://greenpinatatoys.com/blog/play-themselves-into-harvard/
(Now if only we can figure out how to pay for it we will be all set!)

Happy Playing and Learning!

MICHELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Share Toys
EMILY, PARENT OF 5 YEAR OLD, 4 YEAR OLD

Hi! I have a 2.5yo son and a 3.5yo daughter. What sort of toys might you suggest for things that they can share to play together and/or apart?

EMILY

Following!

Michelle
MICHELLE

Hi Emily (and other Emily!),
Blocks are a great toy that kids of different ages and genders can play with simultaneously or independently.

There are also some early board games that would be a great fit for a family game night.

I (as well as my 3 year old) am a big fan of this gear puzzle from Plan Toys: https://greenpinatatoys.com/rent-a-toy/deluxe-gears-and-puzzles
I love the colors and the open ended structure of it really fosters cognitive skills.

Memory games are also a great game at those ages that can be played with 1-4 players. I especially like the ones by Maple Landmark! https://greenpinatatoys.com/rent-a-toy/animal-memory-tiles

Finally, I think that kitchen/food toys are great. I like to have my son use his while I am cooking dinner. He and I can talk about what we are each making and the different ways we are preparing food. He still feels like he is helping me in the kitchen, while not actually stepping foot in the prep area. Talk about a win - win!

Let me know if you have any other questions!
Happy Playing and Learning!

MICHELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Toys for 5 months to a year
LAUREN, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD, 2 YEAR OLD

Hi Michelle, my daughter is almost 5 months old, and grandparents and friends are asking what she would like for Christmas. The thing is, I don't know! She has an activity mat that she loves, but we don't have much for once she starts sitting up and moving around. I'm looking for other toys that will be good for her to grow into over the next 6 months or so. What are some must-haves?

Michelle
MICHELLE

Hi Lauren,
Happy First Christmas to your little one!!
At her age she doesn't need much for toys, but as she continues to develop those early skills it is great to have a few on hand to help her continue to explore the world around her. Toys that rattle or have bells or crinkle are a great start. Also make sure that the toys are easy to grasp to help her develop those fine motor skills. Balls are a great toy to have to teach the cause and effect of what happens when something round rolls away. If she hasn't already, she will start to put EVERYTHING in her mouth, so having some teethers that are made of non-toxic materials are also another must-have. Early shape sorters are also fun to have and you will see how she is developing new skills as she interacts with it in different ways over a month or so. Toys with mirrors are also a fun one to add to the list, as she will continue to build her self awareness, and realize that there is in fact not another baby on the other side of the mirror, but rather, herself!
You can check out all of the toys we at Green Pinata Toys carry for 6 month to 5 year olds here: https://greenpinatatoys.com/rent-toys
We also offer gift subscriptions, which can be a great idea for families to give at the holidays to avoid having your house turn into a toy store!!
Stay tuned for some money saving codes on your first month subscription, as well as discount codes for gift subscriptions!
Happy Playing and Learning!

LAUREN

Thanks very much!

MICHELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
12 month toys
LEIGH, PARENT OF 2 YEAR OLD

What are your favorite toys for a one year old?

Michelle
MICHELLE

Hi Leigh,
My little ones love to make noise, so my go to are pounding toys, especially this one by Hape: https://greenpinatatoys.com/rent-a-toy/pound-and-tap-bench
I also really like stackers because they are so versatile. They can be used to work on ordering size from biggest to smallest or reversed, identifying colors, fine motor skills for stacking with or without a peg and then imaginative play as well!
If the one year old in your life has started to walk, then pull or push toys are great toys too. There are so many that incorporate different skills too; building, sensory, shape identification, etc.
With that said, I would look for toys that play double (or triple) duty, having one toy that hits on multiple skills not only makes the investment more worthwhile, but also keeps the clutter down!
Happy Playing and Learning!

MICHELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
Interested in very few toys
JILLIAN

Hi Michelle, my 15 month old daughter LOVES push and pull toys (we learned this thanks to Green Pinata!), but she isn't very interested in others, such as building blocks or noisemakers. How can I help her expand her interests when it comes to toys? Do I keep exposing her to the same blocks and noisemakers, or do I try something new?

Michelle
MICHELLE

Hi Jill,
So happy to hear that your little one is loving the push and pull toys we offer! Every child develops at different rates and have different likes and dislikes (we sometimes forget that they are just little humans)! If she is not showing interest in blocks or noise makers, she may just not be ready for them. I would try out a few different toys for a month or so, then switch back to other toys that she didn't seem interested in before. As she grows and develops new skills you will see her gravitating towards different toys.
Happy Playing and Learning!

MICHELLE ADDED A NEW COMMENT!
toys for 15 month old
MIRANDA, PARENT OF 3 YEAR OLD

Would toys for 15 month old be the same as 2 year old toys listed in the other comment?

Michelle
MICHELLE

Hi Miranda,
It is truly depends on the child. Some children develop fine motor skills earlier than others. So, some 15 month old children may be ready for puzzles, while others may not be. Chunkier puzzles or puzzles with knobs may be a better fit for 15 month olds, as the spacial reasoning needed for a jigsaw puzzle typically develops a bit later. You can check out all of the toys we have available at Green Pinata Toys for ages 12-18 months here: https://greenpinatatoys.com/rent-toys
Happy Playing and Learning!