By Alexandra Smith
If you need a bit of help choosing gifts for youngsters then take some inspiration from our list of Top Ten Toys for Under 5s.
1) LeapFrog Shapes and Sharing Picnic Basket is role-play and shape sorting rolled in to one. Children can share the cups, plates, forks and food with a friend or a toy and answer the questions which the picnic basket asks.
2) Early Learning Centre HappyLand toys are fun and safe for young children. Look out for the ELC and Argos selling play-sets for half their original price. The rocket and house pictured have buttons, sound-effects and lights as well as figures and vehicles.
3) Weebles are an old favourite. All they do is wobble but collecting them can become quite addictive; especially when stores sell them at about £2 for two (recently discounted in Matalan). Kids enjoy putting them in and taking them out of Weeble vehicles. The boat and plane vibrate to make the seated Weebles spin. The bus has an opening door and a button on the roof which makes the Weeble passengers go round.
4) Soft Touch Baby Dinosaurs are a good alternative to the small plastic dinosaurs you can buy with 'choking hazard,' warnings attached and they're also relatively cheap.
5) ELC Pop It In The Post Game combines a dice game with picture, number and colour matching. It also provides children with a postbox, envelopes, letters and stamps for their pretend post-round. The plastic letters fit inside the envelopes and the stamps click on and off. There are messages on the letters and the characters featured are cartoon animals which may correspond to some of your child's other toys so they can be brought in to the fun.
6) Tesco Toy Shopping Baskets are sturdy and cheap. Children will enjoy using them to carry small toys or even Ikea's Soft Toy Fruit and Vegetable sets as pictured.
7) Fisher Price Baby's First Blocks is the name of an excellent shape-sorting toy which encourages children to match shapes and colours as well as tidy up after themselves. Toddlers will enjoy carrying the bucket while older preschoolers can thread the blocks on to string (string not included). Look out for '2 for £15' at Argos (you may like to pair this toy with a Tomy Aquadraw Travel Bag or a Fisher Price Bounce'n'Giggle Figure).
8) Wow Toy Vehicles are well-made and don't require batteries. They can seem quite expensive but the tractor pictured is the same price as many other toy tractors which would not be suitable for the under 3s.
9) LeapFrog My Own Leaptop is a lightweight toy laptop with basic functions and features including letters, music, sounds, animal names, noises, a sliding mouse, an opening lid and a carry-handle. You can load different settings by attaching the laptop to a computer. The Leaptop can say your child's name and you can set-up pretend email messages from relatives so the Leaptop can read them aloud.
10) Vintage Favourites include this Fisher Price tool kit with wind-up drill. Keep an eye on EBay for toys which may still be loved by kids today.
Do you have any favourite toys or current bargains you wish to share with others?
Keep Reading: Wondering What Toys to Buy...?
Website links were sourced on the 6th November 2012. Apologies if they are now out of date.
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Disclaimer: These tips are created from lessons I have learnt during my own experience. With regard to the content and advice on this blog, Alexandra Smith makes no representations or warranties about its accuracy, reliability or suitability for anyone. Any reliance you place on the blog or its content is at your own discretion and in no event will Alexandra be liable for any loss, damage or injury in connection with your use.