Watch and consider the kinds of activities your child enjoys and engages in often. For example, does she often make up her own stories with dolls and animals or do you have a hard time getting her out of the bathtub? Does he spend a lot of time taking items apart and putting them back together? These are all clues to help you understand the type of toy to look for. This doesn’t mean you don’t buy something outside of the norm for your child – while she may not be interested in something totally new at first, many children will try it at their leisure and may discover a new interest.

If your child is old enough, ask him what he likes to play with, do, and explore. Children are very honest. Be aware that television and media often influences children. Commercials are bright and engaging, with children who look like they are having a great time. Thus, children have a hard time understanding that commercials are not real shows. Explain to your child that the intent of commercials and advertisements is to try to get you to buy something – even if you don’t really want or need it.