5 Must Haves for Your Kids This Year

When we talk about 'must-haves' for kids, our imaginations tend to drift off to the land of screens: smart phones, games consoles and gaming apps are top of the list when it comes to entertaining our little ones, as after all, that seems to be all they want. Right?

Well, while it's true that the kids will take any opportunity to gaze at a flickering screen, you'd be amazed at how happy they are if you can find other ways to entertain them. They'll play well, rest well and generally be in a much nicer mood if you can prize them away from the gadgets and the gizmos, encouraging them to make the most of their imaginations instead.

Here are six must-haves for your kids this year, ranging from the clothes you need to kit them out with, to the books that will send them off to dreamland…

1. An arts and crafts box

Little girls and boys love to make things with their hands, so why not stock up an arts and crafts box for them? It'll need to be filled with paper, pens, pencils and scissors, but to make it even more fun, stock up on glue, glitter, finger paints, pipe cleaners and anything else that provides lots of sensory stimulation. Encouraging creativity is important for a child's development, and playing with arts and crafts materials helps to develop fine motor skills too.

2. Outdoor clothes

You could also turn your attention towards your child's wardrobe. Being outdoors is really good for children (as this NCT article explains), but the only way you're going to get them outside (and staying there!) is to kit them out in the right clothing. This means they'll need to be wearing reliable waterproofs, comfortable wellies and other outdoor clothing so that they're warm and dry while they're jumping in puddles, tearing through fields, exploring forests and climbing trees. A retailer like this one is a great place to start - they've been in the business of supplying outdoor clothes to kids for over 20 years.

3. Books for bedtime

Doubtless you'll know that reading can make a huge difference to a child's life: in fact, studies have shown that reading for pleasure has more of an effect on a child's cognitive development than their parent's level of education, or their home life. So, encourage your children to get lost in a book this year by stocking up on some of the Guardian's best-loved titles .

The Gruffalo, The Tiger Who Came to Tea and Elmer are all fantastic reads for children who love animals, and Fairy Tales such as the Princess and the Pea, Rumplestiltskin and Hansel and Gretel will grip your children's imaginations until they drift off to sleep.

4. Traditional board games

Even in 2017, there's room for a traditional board game! Play board games more often than just at Christmas time by buying a new Monopoly board, for instance. You can teach children about money management, waiting their turn and holding positions of responsibility (if they're the banker). Or, make a jigsaw puzzle of your own. You can have a photograph printed on a jigsaw, and if it's one your children like or they've photographed themselves, they'll have extra incentive to complete the entire thing.

5. Toys

Even in a very digitalised era, children still need toys to play with (and even older children like to indulge in it once in a while too). So, why not turn your attention to Lego? Lego has just overtaken Disney to become the most powerful brand in the world, and that's no surprise given how loved it is by children and grown ups alike. Encourage your kids to make Lego structures of anything they fancy, letting their imaginations run wild. Just be careful not to step on those little Lego bricks in the dark!

What do you think of these must-haves for kids? Are you planning on stocking up on any of these this year, and do you have any suggestions of your own to add?

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