One of the most challenging aspects of being a parent is deciding on the perfect gift for your child. This is especially true in the case of our daughters as they do present with inherently different characteristics from your young boy. Nevertheless, in our great desire to show them how much we care, we tend to go to great lengths to determine the most appropriate – almost perfect, if you will – gifts for our little princesses. And while there are no foolproof ways in which we can be certain of picking the perfect little gift every time, all the time, we can always adhere to time-honored guidelines or helpful tips on how we can effectively choose the perfect gift for our daughter.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Gift for Girls
Whenever we go shopping for that ideal present for the little princess in our family, we are often confronted with a lot of choices. In each of these choices we have to make otherwise difficult decisions often related to the exactness of fit of the item being considered, the color appropriateness of the product relative to the favorite of our child, and many more. However, pediatric behavioral specialists, especially those who specialize in child psychology and growth and development, point to two very important considerations when choosing the perfect gift for your daughter. These include developmental appropriateness and safety. We’re going to discuss them in greater detail here.
There’s some confusion as to the real meaning of developmental appropriateness. For many, it simply means age-appropriateness. It’s not uncommon to see parents use these terms interchangeably because both are actually almost the same. The key word here is “almost”. So, what makes it “almost” the same?
Let’s start with age-appropriateness first. As the term implies, a product is deemed appropriate if the recommended age printed on the label of the product matches the age of your daughter. For example, if your little princess is already 5 years old, then you must choose gifts that have “For Children Aged 5+” or “For Kids Between Ages 3 and 8” that is printed on their labels, and so on. It really is very straightforward, very simple. You only have to look at the label of the toy or gift you want to give to your daughter, make sure that your daughter’s age is well within the recommended age range, and you should be fine, right? How difficult can that be? Sadly, it’s not really that simple.
The thing is that the age of the child will only tell you of her chronological “maturity” in relation to the ages of children for which the product was designed. Unfortunately, we all know of the existence of individual differences. Even twins can be vastly different from one another. What more with other kids? In our example, your daughter may already be 5 years old. However, there are certain aspects of her personality that simply doesn’t fit to the requirements of the gift. For instance, one of the numerous characteristics of 5-year olds is that they are now able to show proficiency, even mastery of certain motor skills like balancing on one foot. What if the toy or the gift you are entertaining which is recommended for 5 year olds require a particular skill where your daughter has to balance herself on her foot, yet you know for a fact that she clearly cannot do it yet? What will you do then? She may already be 5 years old and is perfect for the age recommendation of the gift but her motor skills may still be that of a 4-year old. You may have an age-appropriate product but definitely not developmentally-appropriate in terms of your child’s developmental abilities.
That is why experts really do recommend, as we do, that parents take time to consider the developmental appropriateness of any product that they buy for their kids. Your child’s developmental level is a more appropriate, more accurate indicator of the type of toy or gift that you should buy for her. The main idea is to look at the different skills that a particular product or gift item will require from someone who will be using it and then determining whether these skills are present in the person you are going to give the item to. What we would like to see is congruence between what skills the product requires and the skills that your child has. If there is a match between the two, then it should be just perfect. The reason for this is quite simple. Everyone progresses at her own pace. You may have several children who are all 5 years old yet their developmental levels will be quite different from one another. You will have a girl who is more “advanced” for her developmental age while there will be those who are somewhat lagging behind.
We know that it is very challenging and quite very tedious to focus on developmental appropriateness as the sole parameter for choosing the perfect gift for your daughter. That is why our recommendation is to look at the recommended age of the product, examine it carefully, and determine the different skills that it will require from your child. Based on this, you can then make more relevant decisions as to whether the product matches the developmental level of your little princess or not.
The other major consideration that you have to keep in mind when choosing a toy or a gift for your daughter is the safety of the product. There are many aspects of product safety and the substances used in its construction or manufacture is just one of them. According to a 2009 study, 1 in 3 toys are embedded with toxic chemicals. Even big-name toymakers are not exempted from this failure. However saddening the report is, there is a glimmer of hope. The same report said that the number of toys and kiddie products that contain toxic chemicals has steadily decreased since the institution of several measures by leading government agencies to protect the welfare of kids against these harmful substances. While it is true that there are still companies who don’t want to toe the line, many more are shaping up and improving their manufacturing processes to help ensure that the products that they churn out from their assembly lines are free from these harmful toxic chemicals. Even China, which has already earned a not-so-respectable reputation for shoddy product quality and safety, is slowly shaping up. Some Chinese manufacturers are now clearly following the rules that everybody else are adhering to.
So what toxic chemicals should you be on the lookout for when you choose the perfect gift for your daughter? There are quite a lot. However, we’ve listed here some of the more common.
- PVC – Officially called polyvinyl chloride, PVC is a very common substance, a plastic polymer, used in many applications. Even the healthcare industry uses a certain kind of PVC. The major issue is not in the PVC as a whole but rather in some of its components like its vinyl chloride monomer, phthalate plasticizers, and bisphenol A, better known as BPA. Vinyl chloride has been implicated in the development of a certain type of liver cancer as well as a much-rarer kind called hemangiosarcoma. These conditions were seen in individuals working in factories and processing plants that use vinyl chloride in many applications. While it is not known whether the same monomer can wreak havoc in children, it’s better to be on the safe side of things.
- Phthalates – We already mentioned that this is one of the most common plasticizers used in the production of PVC. So, if you have a product that is made of PVC, it is almost always for certain that it contains phthalates, too. The only known human effect is related to the observation of atypical play behavior among male children born to mothers who were exposed to such toxic substances when they were pregnant. And since you have a daughter, this should not really be a concern; unless, she grows up and becomes a mother herself. Animal studies on the effects of phthalates show that the substance is very toxic to the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and the organs of the reproductive system. In some organisms, overall development is adversely affected.
- Bisphenol A – We know this as BPA and is one of the materials also used in the manufacture of PVC. Like phthalate, BPA exerts its toxigenic effects on the reproductive system, primarily affecting males because of its estrogenic effects. Animal studies also confirm its toxigenic potential to the reproductive system as well as the nervous system. In some epidemiological studies, there is a link between exposure to BPA and the incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Whether this link is causal or not, it does pay to know what BPA can do to the body.
- Lead – While it is true that significant reductions in the lead content of many products have been observed in recent years, there are still plenty of kiddie products that contain substantially high levels of lead. In a recent study, 7 of 10 products for children have been found to contain more than the maximum level recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics at 40 parts per million or PPM. Lead is a highly toxic substance to the nervous system and very young children are highly susceptible to its adverse effects.
- Bromine – This substance is often found in kiddie products applied with flame retardants. This chemical is highly toxic to the liver, the nervous system, and the thyroid glands.
- Cadmium – It has been shown that excess levels of cadmium in the body can lead to softening of the bones which does not bid well for growing children. It’s also known for causing certain types of cancer and kidney problems. Among infants, their brain development can be significantly hampered.
The safety of kiddie gifts and toys is not only limited to the materials used in their manufacture, however. There are other safety concerns that you should be on the lookout whenever you’re choosing the perfect gift for your daughter. These can include the following.
- Choking hazards – If you have noticed, there is a small part of the label in many toys which says “Choking Hazard Warning”. This is often seen in kiddie products that are less than 1.25 inches across and/or less than 2.25 inches in length. All products that have components or parts that are less than these dimensions and are at risk for falling off, becoming detached, or purposely removed, are considered as choking hazards. Choking is a special concern among children younger than 3 years old since they technically put everything into their mouths as reflexive action or as a means to satisfy curiosity. If not managed immediately, choking can lead to death as it blocks the passages where air enters into the lungs to deliver oxygen. Choking hazards include toys smaller than the said dimensions, balls, balloons, coins, buttons, clips, bottle caps, and many more. So, be careful when choosing the gift for your daughter who is younger than 3 years old. Make sure it’s not very small and that it doesn’t have small components that can break or fall apart easily.
- Electric hazards – Many of today’s toys and gifts have electronic components. Sadly, there have been a lot of products that hugged the limelight for the wrong reasons. Their batteries, charging mechanisms, and other electrical components simply were not safe leading to injuries and losses in property. Make sure you get only gifts that have UL-certification or any other trustworthy accrediting organization.
- Structural hazards – There are toys and gifts that, while they may not be choking or electrical hazards, they serve as structural hazards. These toys often have issues with the way different components fit together, giving you a very shaky, unstable finished product. So, be careful about this, too.
Choosing the perfect gift for your daughter means looking at the developmental appropriateness and the safety profile of the product you are seriously considering. These may take more of your time but we can guarantee it’s all worth it.
Picking Age- and Developmentally- Appropriate Gifts for Your Daughter
By now you should already appreciate the importance of looking at the developmental appropriateness of a gift for your daughter. While child psychologists spend years studying the unique characteristics of children, you don’t need to spend that much time to obtain a basic understanding of such things. Here, we will outline them for you.
If you have a baby daughter who is no older than 12 months, learning the very essence of her existence is quite easy. Her development largely focuses on the establishment of muscle control to facilitate the various motor skills she will need when she grows older. Additionally, she will also be developing and relying on her senses to obtain as much information as possible from herself and from her surroundings. And when we talk about everything around her little world, that includes everything she sees, tastes, hears, feels, and smells. This also includes you and the significant others who will be showering her with lots of love, attention, care, and affection. Let’s try to explain this in a much simpler way.
Through your little girl’s senses, she is able to gather a wide range of information that will be sent and processed by the brain. The brain of a newborn baby girl is different from the brain of a 2 year old girl or any other older child. It’s still relatively brand new. And like all brand new things, the brain needs to receive all possible information to process and store. It’s like opening a savings account. You start small. With time and with the continuous deposit of cash, your savings eventually grow. The same is true with babies. They gather all the different information their senses can provide and let the brain store these pieces of information for use later in life. Some of these pieces of information processed by the brain will be sent to the muscles where their movement will again cause the different sensory organs to obtain additional information. So, it’s a cycle. In a gist, babies gather as much information as possible for the brain to process. Their motor skills help them obtain additional information.
Other interesting characteristics of babies include:
- Socially dependent
- Desire to develop trust
- Interact with faces
- Start to coo, babble, and other forms of rudimentary “talking”
- Love experiencing responses to their actions
- Master of body language as a form of communication
- Unique individuals in their own right
So, if you’re going to choose the perfect gift for your baby girl, you might want to consider the
- Toys that stimulate the senses – examples are toys that come in various colors and in high contrast patterns, sensory toys, music boxes, squeaky rubber toys, wind chimes, rattles, stuffed toys, teething rings, and items with different textures, among others.
- Gifts that introduce them to their world – great choices will be soft books, board books, kiddie household items, pretend toys, and unbreakable mirror, just to name some.
- Items that encourage them to use their muscles and motor skills – examples are shape sorters, activity bars, activity centers, play gyms, play mats, soft blocks, push toys, puzzles, handheld toys, soft stuffed toys, nesting cups, ring cones, and many more.
- Gifts that cater to her basic needs like feeding bottles, sippy cups, infant juices, teethers, pacifiers, nursery kits, and others.
By the time your daughter reaches the age of 12 months to around 3 years, she would have already been the little Dora the Explorer in your family. Toddlers are well-known for their curiosity. They are now highly mobile, having just discovered the joys of walking which makes exploration a lot easier. Thus, they are very active and very energetic. Seldom will you see your little princess stop and take a breather from all of her wonderful activities. Not a day goes by that she will not test the limits of her new-found autonomy. Unfortunately, if you have a younger tot, she may still have difficulty expressing her thoughts and feelings and this can make it very frustrating for her. However, as she grows older, you will notice that she now has quite an exceptional number of words which she can use to communicate with you and other persons in her life. She continues to develop her motor and cognitive skills. In a gist, your young princess will typically be characterized by the following.
- Very curious about new things
- Very active and playful
- May be self-absorbed and egocentric such that her favorite will be everything about herself
- Strives to gain autonomy from certain activities
- Shows interest in her peers
- May already be able to express herself in simple sentences
If you have to choose the perfect gift for your daughter aged 1-3 years old, you might want to consider the following.
- Items that allow her to continue developing her motor skills – examples are puzzles, ride-on toys, musical instruments, sorting and nesting play sets, dress-up sets, pull and push playthings, climbing gyms, and building blocks.
- Gifts that allow her to express herself – examples will be dolls and doll accessories, art supplies, toy home appliances, musical instruments, dress-up sets, and toys that allow for pretending activities in the home.
- Toys that allow for exploration – picture books, sand and water play tables, and things that she can manipulate will be ideal.
- Products that help in building her language skills – books, pretend play toys, dress-up sets, and dolls make good examples.
Check out our great selection of toys from recommend manufacturers for 3 Year Old girls.
Preschoolers continue to be great explorers. Your daughter, by this time, is more cooperative although you can still sense some level of selfishness every now and then. It is during this time that your daughter has already achieved excellent control of her motor skills. She can now play hopscotch or even jumping rope with great proficiency. If there is one thing you need to understand about your daughter at this particular stage in her life, it is that she absolutely hates abrupt changes in her routine.
Preschoolers love repetition. It gives them the sense of security that doing something over and over will bring mastery. This builds their self-confidence. And it makes them very proud of what they do. If you do change one of your daughter’s routines, you can expect that she is going to object or even resist. That is why it is very important to introduce such changes in a more gradual manner. She hates transitions. However, by lengthening the transition period, it makes it a lot easier for them to get into their new roles.
Great examples of gifts that you can give to your daughter who is now between 3 and 6 years old may include, but not limited to, the following.
- Toys and kits that allow for dramatic play – examples are dress-up clothes, dolls and accessories, ride-on toys, toy household appliances, and playhouses
- Gifts that stimulate simple problem solving – examples are puzzles and interactive computer applications
- Items that allow her to express her imagination – examples are art supplies, modeling clay, musical instruments, music players, and simple craft kits
- Presents that allow her to use her newly-enhanced motor skills – excellent examples are sports toys, ride-on toys, tunnels, climbers, sand and water play sets, playhouses, and dolls and accessories
School-aged children are motivated by a strong desire to belong to a peer group of the same sex. Of particular importance is your daughter’s ability to master her academic skills. If she can hone these skills to their fullest, she will be able to pursue more creative and more intellectual experiences. That is why our job as parents of kids during this stage is to provide them with the right environment to sharpen these skills. Concomitant to the mastery of her academic competencies is her tendency to excel in a particular interest to show her unique talents. Your job is to encourage and support her in the things that she would like to accomplish.
If your preschool daughter craves for attention and praise, your school-aged princess wants your support and encouragement. She has this need to feel that what she is doing is right and that you are there to support her all the way. Of course, you do have to take the time to really find out her talents and be sensitive enough to cultivate this. For instance, if your daughter has a knack for making friendship bracelets and other smaller trinkets, you can encourage her by giving her all the right tools and accessories to make really stunning friendship bracelets.
Want the perfect gift for your school-aged daughter? Try these:
- Craft kits
- Books, both fiction and non-fiction
- Fitness, exercise, and sports toys, equipment, and paraphernalia
- Ride-on toys
- Dress-up or costume sets
- Board games and complex puzzles
Pre-teens and Teens
Your little princess has grown. In a few years’ time, she will already be a lady. In fact, as soon as she hits puberty, many bodily changes will start occurring and which can have a bearing on her body image. The waist will grow slimmer while the breasts will develop fuller. Her facial features will take on the shape of a lady and she will now have to deal with issues like menstruation. It is also because of these bodily changes that they begin to be interested in the opposite sex. The rebellious teen, that’s what many call this stage. However, it’s actually a misnomer since young ladies at this stage are desperately longing for acceptance. They want to be accepted by adults as equals. Unfortunately, they can only find comfort in their peers who may not be the right role models for them. Our duty as parents of our teenage daughters is to help them establish a healthier self-concept by helping them accept the bodily changes. Additionally, we can always remind them that we are their friends, too.
If you have a teenage daughter you might want to give something special, why not try the following?
- Clothes, bags, jewelry, and fashion accessories
- Arts and crafts kits
- Musical instruments including music boxes
- Tablets, computers, laptops, and smartphones
- Diaries, journals
Bonus Tips to Selecting the Right Gifts for Your Daughter
We’ve pretty much covered what you can do to choose the perfect gift for your daughter. However, we’re adding these tips to help you make refinements in your selection.
- Consider choosing an item that your young daughter will be able to use even when she’s already older. It is a lot better to get something that has multiple uses than a single purpose. This way your daughter will not get easily bored.
- Try reading product reviews. While these are not really very objective evaluations of the true value of a product, it should still give you an idea of how the product really works in the real world. Do take note of negative comments as these can usually point to a real problem in the product or even the company that makes them. However, understand that not all negative comments are valid so you’d have to study these as well.
- Always put yourself in your daughter’s shoes. This is the only way you can truly appreciate what she really wants. This is especially true for younger kids as their view of the world is quite different from the way adults see it. You might miss something very important for your daughter simply because you’re looking at it from your perspective and not from hers.
- Before you go any further, ask yourself this, “Am I buying this gift because my daughter will benefit from it? Or am I the only one thinking she will benefit from it?” Many of us think we know what our kids want. The fact is that only THEY know what THEY want. The only way you will know what they truly want is if they open up to you. This is where your being a friend to them really matters.
There are two very important things you need to consider when choosing the perfect gift for your daughter. First is the developmental appropriateness of the gift item. Second is its safety. You can add other parameters but these two are the absolute essentials.