Without a doubt, the holiday season is in full swing. Whether you are just starting on the dreaded shopping list or wrapping up last-minute details, the task can be overwhelming! With long Santa lists full of the latest toys and gadgets, it’s hard to decide on the best gift for your child. Maybe you are buying for nieces or nephews, but have no idea what they are into. If you are shopping for any child this season, then these tips may help:
- Consider safety first:
a. Buy new and stay away from older toys. Even though they might have sentimental value, they could be safety hazards.
b. Consider sounds. Toys that are too loud may contribute to hearing loss and damage.
c. Choose age-appropriate toys. Be sure to check the package for the recommended age range. Toys above a child’s age level may pose a risk for choking due to small parts.
d. Battery-operated toys should have a case where the battery is secure and the screws cannot fall out.
- Toys for learning and development:
a. Choose “open-ended” toys. These toys encourage your child’s imagination along with creativity and problem solving. This could include everything from building blocks and craft kits to dress-up clothes and puppets.
b. Books are the best. They’re always a great choice for all kids from toddler to teen. Whether reading to a child or encouraging kids to read on their own, it’s proven that reading helps a child’s cognitive, language and social-emotional development.
c. Choose age- or stage-based toys. Consider the stage your child is in. For infants, the visual component of bright primary colors, simple designs and human face features are always a hit, while preschoolers like realistic detail and working parts such as small figures and cars.
- Toys that encourage physical activity and outside play:
a. Active outside toys such as bikes and swing sets can help build bodies and minds while helping your child burn off energy.
b. While the cold weather may be an issue, consider indoor games or toys such as a small indoor trampoline, tumbling mat or Sit ’n Spin.
Toy-related injuries are more common than you think. Keep in mind that safety comes first. Remember to follow general guidelines such as watching out for choking hazards, always buying nontoxic art materials, machine-washable stuffed animals and toys made of flame-resistant materials. Also, stay up to date on toy recalls, especially if you receive hand-me-down children’s products. Visit safekids.org for the latest list of product recalls and stay up to date by receiving recalls by email.