Around the world, we are seeing shifts and changes in the ways that families operate. More and more households operate on a dual income (both Mum and Dad work), and the most recent round of US census data found that roughly 20 per cent of fathers with pre-school age children served as the primary caretaker at home.
These are important shifts in the way that society is organised, and they have some major repercussions for the way that homes operate. One trend we are witnessing is the rise of the masculine shopper. More and more fathers are making most of the purchasing decisions at home, picking up everything from groceries to household wares. They are also increasingly likely to do the toy shopping – a role that traditionally fell to Mum.
An article published in the New York Times last year explored this trend more fully and finds that consumer products are increasingly likely to target men rather than women with their marketing campaigns. Likewise, stores are changing their layouts and floor plans with the hopes of up-selling to male shoppers.
You’ll see trends like this emerging online as well. However, the fact that men are doing more of the shopping does not necessarily mean that they are entirely comfortable with their role. To that end, have a look at the following tips for Dads to keep in mind when shopping for toys online:
Shopping for newborns
Newborn babies are curious from day one, and the toys that you purchase for them are going to help them achieve key stages of early development. At this point the child is not going to ‘play’ with the toy so much as marvel at it. With that in mind, purchase toys that make interesting sounds, move around and have bright colours. Bear in mind, while newborns can see in colour, this faculty is not fully developed yet. Blacks, whites and reds work best.
Shopping for six- to ten-month-olds
At this stage of development, babies start grasping at objects, and this ups the stakes in play time considerably. Again, bright colours and moving parts are key. Consider purchasing colourful mobiles, rattles and soft balls that make sounds when you squeeze or shake them.
Shopping for one- to three-year-olds
Toddlers like to fully engage the world, and the toys you purchase for them should enrich this process. They enjoy filling and emptying containers and transferring toys from one area to another. Shop for blocks, pitchers and cups for your child to play with, as well as toys that fit together or interlock. By the time they are three years old, you can also consider getting your child a starter tricycle.
Shopping for five-year-olds
At this point, children begin interacting with playmates – which could be Dad and Mum, siblings or other children their age. For interactive play, consider costumes, non-toxic art supplies, electronics and outdoor toys. On the latter front, think balls, slides and swings.
Follow Manufacturer Guidelines
There are a few other issues to keep in mind when you are shopping for your children. One is to pay close attention to the age ranges that manufacturers post on the packaging. Even when shopping on the Internet, you should still be able to find this information. Sometimes, Dads can be tempted to purchase a toy that is designed for children that are older than theirs, thinking that this will introduce challenges and create opportunity for advancement.
Resist this urge. Your child is much more likely to be frustrated by the ‘advanced’ toy. Furthermore, items designed for older children might have small parts or pieces that the child could choke on.