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It’s every parent or gift giver’s challenge: How do I find the perfect toy for this child? A toy that's fun to play with, stimulates the child’s development, and fits her age and capabilities?

Check the age marking
Choosing the right toy is a lot like match-making. It’s of course important to know about your child’s likes and interests, but it’s even more important to take age into account.

As a rule of thumb, a good toy is one that requires your child to actively play with it; one that challenges your child at her current level of development. If the toy does all the playing itself, your child will quickly lose interest. If it’s too sophisticated or hard to handle, it will frustrate her. And if it’s too simple, it will simply bore her. This is why the age marking on the packaging is an important guide when shopping for toys.

Watch how your child plays
Observing what type of play your child is interested in and how he plays gives you an idea of what toy to choose. As your child grows, his way of playing will become more sophisticated. A new toy should therefore match your child’s play interest and development stage.

18-24 months: Play to explore
Your child is very interested in exploring the world. Anything that opens and shuts, has knobs and switches, and makes a sound is extremely interesting. Toys with interlocking parts, pop-up toys, sorting and construction toys, vehicles with doors that open, and play kitchens with knobs will keep your child occupied for a long time.

2-3 years: Pretend play
At this age, your child loves to imitate everyday life. Dress-up clothes, dolls, animals, vehicles and houses are perfect for pretend play. In addition, your child is developing her problem-solving skills. Basic jigsaw puzzles and building blocks are perfect for testing these newfound abilities.

3-4 years: Fantasy play
Your child is developing her imagination and becoming more creative. Many boys will often take on the roles of knights, firemen, and other action characters, whereas girls can tend to focus more on fantasy characters like princesses. Toys that offer an opportunity to make and create a play world are very popular.

4-5 years: Look what I made!
Your child’s natural creativity is in full bloom. She continues to create amazing fantasy play worlds, but is now also making lots of drawings, collages, bead creations, etc. In contrast, she's also starting to take a strong interest in systems. Numbers and letters are new and exciting concepts waiting to be explored. Arts and crafts materials and construction toys are perfect outlets for your child’s creative and logic skills.

LEGO® DUPLO® bricks grow with your child and offer many ways to play. From simple stacking to building and being creative. From imagination and role play to problem-solving and playing with numbers and letters. See more at DUPLO.LEGO.com.