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In the eyes of a child… there is joy… there is laughter. And to see that joy and laughter is a very precious moment for any proud parent. That is why, all around the globe, there are products made and are still being made to give that joy and laughter to children. From traditional children swing sets to modern day technologies for children, the reactions elicited by a child when they receive a gift is one in the same... Pure Excitement.

For small girls and boys, they squeal with delight when they receive gifts that are of dolls and bears. Little girls smile with excitement as they lovingly stroke their doll’s hair and baptize these dolls with their chosen names. Cuddly bears are also popular gift items for children. Bears that are sold in the market today, all come in different sizes and colors. 

Just like the others, dolls have their own evolution. Back in the very, very early days when plastic were yet to be discovered, dolls were basically made from clay, fur, and wood. Archaeological findings revealed the presence of dolls even in the early Egyptian, Greek, and Roman times. 

In the 16th and 17th century, Europe became the major location for doll production. From wooden dolls during the 16th and 17th century, to wax dolls in the 17th and 18th century. But at the start of the 19th century, porcelain dolls were born. 

During this time, French Bebe dolls were very popular. It was the Germans who were the geniuses behind these dolls and were more sought-after compared to their French rivals. They could produce French Bebe dolls that were of a higher-quality but at a more affordable price. 

On the other hand, mothers around the globe have been making their very own dolls for a very long time. These are called rag dolls, made from any fabric available. These dolls may not be as expensive or sophisticated as the other dolls manufactured, but they are most-loved by children. 

When World War II ended, doll-making has entered another phase of evolution. In the 1940’s, plastic was now the main substance in producing dolls. Aside from plastics, other materials were from rubber, foam rubber, and vinyl. The production of dolls using vinyl was another turning point for doll-making. Vinyl enables doll makers to put hair roots instead of the usual hair painting or the use of wigs. 

There are some websites that offer porcelain dolls in different designs, and in some, porcelain dolls of different cultures. The prices for some of these dolls do not exceed $60. But as for the very popular French Bebe dolls, prices are a little steep which is quite understandable considering that these dolls are very antique. Some French Bebe dolls may range from a thousand dollars to higher than that. 

As for stuffed animals such as bears, the name Teddy Bear came from former United States President Theodore Roosevelt. Everything started with a hunting incident and an American Black Bear. Former President Roosevelt was asked to shoot the caught and already clubbed, tied-to-a- tree bear. But he refused to do so. Instead, he gave instructions to put the bear out of its misery.

A man named Morris Michtom was the one who made a small stuffed bear cub and put it on display on his window shop, with a tag “Teddy’s bear”. This had turned out to be a huge success. But during this time, a German toy firm named Steiff also produced their own stuffed bears using the sketches of Richard Steiff. 

Today, mass production of teddy bears is being done in China and Indonesia. But production of these stuffed animals should pass rigid quality control to ensure the safety of the children clients. 

Stuffed animals such as teddy bears can be made using mohair and alpaca. Mohair yarns are durable and exhibits high quality luster. These are derived from the hair of the Angora goat. As for alpaca, these are obtained from the hair of alpacas that look like llamas. 

Another source of joy and laughter for children are stuffed animals called Beanie Babies. These stuffed animals have fillings made from plastic pellets. Beanie Babies made their debut on January 8, 1993 under Ty Inc.

The market for products aimed at children forms an understandably massive presence on the world stage. As populations continue to increase in size, and move demand ever in favour of supplying the perceived needs of youngsters, the industries that drive supplies grow with them and diversify to meet the needs of different consumer groups. 

Ultimately, at the centre of the whole process is the child, whose needs and wants are typically at the heart of their parents. These needs could feasibly include a whole host of recreational, educational, necessity and health demands. 

In terms of recreational needs, it is widely accepted that the ability to play is profitable to a child in terms of emotional and psychological development. For many years, entire industries have been devoted to making it possible for parents to afford play time to their children. The price of such goods varies depending on who made them and how desirable they are to either the children or to the parents buying them. For example, a child may have a favourite toy, or a parent may have a favourite dress that the child wears. While the level of influence affected by fashions and trends is debatable, it is basically taken as fact by many that what the child wants; the child will get, within reason and financial means. However, what the child wants, or just a well the parent for them, might easily be dictated by what is channelled into their interests by means of TV, Internet, Radio and other forms of media. 

Regarding educational material, the focus on educating the child from an early stage has developed and grown in recent years within the public realm of demand and imagination. Although the desire for a child to develop normally or ahead of his / her peers is obviously a natural one, the cost of promoting such gains in the child’s lifestyle may not always have been affordable. Dominant forms of educational material in this portion of the market have included and continue to include age-tailored reading material, and both games and toys which require problem solving, learning facts and mental stimulation. Many companies, like Lakeside Collection have realized the positive effect that toys and games have on children, and sell toys and games that can help a child develop cognitive abilities. 

In terms of necessity, what we are referring to here is the everyday goods which are made with the child in mind, for their consumption. These can include prepared foods and drinks, supplies such as diapers or medicines, equipment and clothing. The ability to afford necessities is often at the forefront of missions by charitable organisations around the world seeking to relieve the needs of impoverished groups and communities, where the most vulnerable members are children. Where the ability to acquire necessities for child consumers is lacking, usually the priority is placed of supplying essential prepared foods such as baby milk powders, foods for toddlers and other examples of the most basic amenities. 

Necessities can be tied in with health demands, and by extension, health and safety. Requirements can vary from country to country depending on local conditions and the environments. For example, a mosquito net for a child might be of little consequence in New York, but in Botswana in may make the difference between life and death where malaria is concerned. 

Keeping the child safe at all times is a natural concern for any parent, and to this extent, it would be expected that almost all forms of baby and child products must undergo rigorous testing and inspection before being released for general consumption by the public. However, expectation does not always meet with reality, and the final responsibility must rest with the parent to decide what constitutes reasonable risk. 

In deciding how to care for a child, the general consensus for many people would be to ensure that the child receives the appropriate products for its necessity, health, education, and recreation. How to establish a repertoire of such products would depend largely on what the parents could afford and what the specific demands of their child are. However, in essence, all children should be getting a good mix of basic products for each requirement, regardless of how cheap or how expensive they are. 

The parent may be well advised to select recreational items for their children that are within their financial means, whilst keeping any savings aside to serve a child should they one day request something that is in fashion, and / or expensive. Exceptional treats or rewards for good behaviour, good academic performance or celebrations such as birthdays / festivals would also be a good time to invest something expanding, rather than reinforcing, what is available for the child’s recreation. In other words – introducing the child to a new experience, rather than just getting a toy identical to the last one. 

Lastly, and on the same note, the parent might use such opportunities to use available children’s products to identify potential talents. Musical instruments, art materials, writing materials and educational products are a must, if the parent is to observe and realise what a child is capable of excelling at from an early age.

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