If you want to give kids gifts that are both fun and educational this holiday season, then you might want bypass the electronics—at least, that’s according to pediatricians. These docs say the best toys for kids are the ones that don’t require batteries.

The American Academy of Pediatrics just released new guidelines for parents buying toys for kids. The group has warned against falling for electronic toys that are labeled as educational. “Use caution when you see ‘educational’ on the label,” the AAP says. Here’s why.

photo: Jelleke Vanooteghem via Unsplash

“The truth is most tablets, computer games, and apps advertised as ‘educational’ aren’t. Most ‘educational’ apps target memory skills, such as ABCs and shapes,” the guidelines state.

“These skills are only one part of school readiness. The skills young children really need to learn for success in school (and life) include impulse control, managing emotions, and creative, flexible thinking. These are best learned through unstructured and social play with family and friends.”

So what kinds of toys should you be shopping for? Ones that allow kids to use their imaginations, think creatively and move their bodies freely are your best bets. Here are the toys the AAP suggests you should add to your holiday shopping list:

Pretend Play

Items like dolls, animals and action figures that allow kids to role play are great. Also toys like play food or items that allow kids to mimic real life are a great way for kids to express themselves.

Fine Motor Skills

Blocks and puzzles not only help kids develop fine motor skills, but they also teach kids problem-solving skills, math and can improve language and brain development.

Art Supplies

You don’t have to invest in a high-end art studio, items as simple as crayons and paper can help stimulate kids to be creative and improve fine motor skills.

Gross Motor Skills

Toys that encourage physical activity like balls, ride-ons and push and pull toys “help physical development and can improve self-regulation and peer-interaction because of the negotiations around rules that typically take place when kids play together.”

Language

Although many apps and electronic toys promise to help kids learn to read and count, the AAP seats they are no replacement for actual human interactions which are essential for a child’s growth and development. Bypass the apps in favor of books, flashcards and board games that provide opportunities to play together.

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Looking for something to add to your littles’ holiday shopping list? Check out our gift guides for every age and stage.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

 

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