How to Select Quality Toys That Last

Girl playing with dolls in front of dollhouse

Everyone hates wasting money. Everyone wants to give their kids toys they love. Unfortunately, those two things often clash as many of today’s toys end up broken or forgotten not too long after you buy them. Flashy advertising and modern manufacturing can make it tough to know whether your toy purchase is a dud or something your child will actually play with for years. To help you select quality kids toys that aren’t money wasters, here are three simple toy-buying guidelines:

Choose Durable Materials

The old “They just don’t make them like they used to” saying definitely applies to modern toys. Don’t get us wrong. Some of these changes (like outlawing lead paint and increasing safety regulations) have been a very good thing. But other changes have led to toys being manufactured with cheaper and cheaper materials that just don’t hold up. Plastic, of course, is the king of the toy industry. While some plastic toys like building bricks can be quite durable, many plastic toys prioritize low manufacturing costs over durability.

For us, quality wooden toys are the way to go whenever possible, especially for larger toys that require assembly like dollhouses or play kitchens. Not only are wooden toys more eco-friendly, they’re more likely to have sturdy construction that can stand up to rough-and-tumble play time.

Buy from Trusted Brands

The low cost of off-brand toys on Amazon can be oh-so-tempting. But you’re taking a gamble on toys that may have been made with shoddy manufacturing practices and cheap materials. Even worse, these toys can fly under the radar when it comes to U.S. safety standards, and you could end up with a toy chest full of unsafe toys.

For these reasons, it’s always best to choose toys from trusted brands. If you’ve never heard of a toy brand, check out their website to see how long they’ve been in business and whether they meet basic safety standards. Trustworthy brands will usually have information about how they test their products for safety and how they meet or exceed the industry’s safety requirements. This can also be a good indicator that their toys are well-made and won’t fall apart after a few play sessions.

Choose Toys that Can Grow with Your Child

Toy longevity isn’t just about how well the toy is made – it’s also about how long your child will enjoy playing with that toy. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends choosing traditional toys that “grow with the child” and we couldn’t agree more. You’ll save money, avoid a house full of unused toys, and support your child’s development. But what toys fall into that category? The AAP breaks it down like this:

    “Traditional (physical) toys can be categorized in a variety of ways:
  1. symbolic and/or pretend (eg, dolls, action figures, cars, cooking and/or feeding implements, etc)
  2. fine motor, adaptive, and/or manipulative (eg, blocks, shapes, puzzles, trains, etc)
  3. art (eg, clay and coloring)
  4. gross motor and/or physical (eg, large toy cars, tricycles, and push and pull toys).
  5. High-quality toys in each of these categories can facilitate caregiver-child interactions, peer play, and the growth of imagination.”
Overall, a toy should promote pretend play, creativity, problem-solving, or physical activity, and it should let the child do the playing. Toys that make noises and light up usually just offer short-lived entertainment rather than engaging play, and they won’t keep a child’s interest long.

That’s why KidKraft has always kept traditional toys at its core. Our “Made for Make Believe” motto is more than just a slogan – it’s a commitment to creating long-lasting toys that let kids grow their imaginations and creativity. Our wooden play kitchens, dollhouses, train sets, and more are built to last and designed to let kids do what they do best – play!