How to Pick Smart & Safe Toys for Young Kids - Your Buying Guide
Watching a child's eyes light up as he or she opens a brand new toy is one of the simplest pleasures of the holiday season. In addition to providing hours of entertainment, you also want to make sure gifts for your kids are safe and age-appropriate. Read on to learn which types of toys are best for children, and get gift ideas for babies and toddlers.
Make Sure Kids Toys Are Safe
Young children explore their environment with their hands and their mouths. So you should expect everything you give to babies and toddlers, and even preschoolers, to go into their mouths. That's why it's crucial to buy toys without small parts that children can swallow and choke on like marbles, magnets, balloons, mini Legos and other little pieces. For instance, the plastic eyes and noses on stuffed animals can be tugged or chewed off and swallowed. A better bet: Choose plush toys with embroidery instead.
When buying toys for tots, they should meet these safety standards as well:
- Rounded corners and no sharp edges or points
- Made from unbreakable materials
- Non-toxic paint or color (especially in art supplies)
- No long strings
- No electrical parts
Find Fun, Brain-Boosting Toys
Reading a toy's safety and age label will help you determine whether it's suitable for your child. But how do you know if it will be engaging? Children are natural explorers. They're curious about everything. Toys that let kids practice their developing skills will provide the most entertainment. For example, babies can learn about cause and effect, and work on their eye-hand coordination, with a squeeze-squeak toy.
Buy the Best Baby Toys
Babies love to observe. What they find most fascinating are high-contrast and primary-colored objects and human-like faces. They also like to handle and mouth objects and feel different textures. Whatever you choose for an infant, make sure it's lightweight and easy to grasp. Good picks for young babies include:
- Handheld toys
- Objects with mirrors
Older babies have more physical control and strength, and enjoy:
- Stacking objects
- Cloth, plastic or cardboard books
- Music boxes or squeeze-squeak toys
- Simple, floating bath toys
- Plush toys
Choose One of These Top Toddler Toys
Toddlers are a busy bunch constantly on the move and developing their large muscles. They like to move things around, test cause and effect, and sort objects. The perfect toys for toddlers include:
- Push-pull toys with rod "leashes"
- Baby carriages and grocery carts
- Ride-on toys that kids propel with feet
- Simple wooden puzzles
- Big crayons and coloring books
- Hammer/pounding toys
- Pretend play items like a toy telephone, broom, vacuum and kitchen set
Why Safety Has to Be the Priority
Winding up in the emergency room is a terrible way to spend a holiday. That's why safety should be the number one concern when you're selecting toys. If you have any questions about a toy being safe for your child, talk with a nurse or your doctor. It's always better to be safe, than sorry.