1) Good Toys Can Be Used in Different Ways. A ball being bounced, tossed and rolled; or a train set that can be re-arranged to create different scenes; toys like blocks, rings, and connecting sticks can be used over and over and encourage children to use their imagination.
2) Good Toys are Made to Last and are Durable. The best toys don't have tons of little pieces. They can be washed easily and will still work after being tossed in the tub or down a flight of stairs . Kids are tough on their toys and the toys should be able to hold up to the beating.
3) Good Toys are Safe, Interactive and Age Appropriate. Whether that means chunky puzzles for your 1 year old or a model car for your 13 year old; a good toy challenges your child's mind and it must be handled. It must be able to stand up to your child's close scrutiny and inspection. A toy that only needs a child to press a button and watch it go, does nothing to develop the child's imagination or creativity.
Not to worry about buying the latest and greatest; we've all spent money on some expensive gimmicky contraption, only to stand in amazement when our child tosses it aside and uses the box as a holding pin for his imaginary three ring circus!
Learn more about toys & child development at The Early Years Institute.