Today’s children have more choices for entertainment than any other generation in history, and parents can easily feel overwhelmed at the sheer number of kids’ toys available. It’s vital for parents to carefully consider their choices to find safe and age-appropriate toys for their kids. Some toys are only acceptable for older children, while specially designed toys are safe for infants and toddlers. Parents must take age recommendations into account when purchasing toys for their children, as well as a few other factors.
Parents should look for age recommendations when shopping for children’s toys. For example, a toy manufacturer may list a stuffed bear as acceptable for ages 6 months and up, while a building set with small parts may have an age range of 3 years and up. These are important guidelines, because certain toys can pose a risk to younger children, particularly when it comes to choking hazards.
Many older children’s toys like LEGO sets, action figures, and dollhouses include small parts that are dangerous for infants and toddlers. It’s important for families with children of varying ages to keep the toys separate. Babies and toddlers are naturally curious, and toddlers have a habit of putting everything they can find into their mouths, so choking is a very real danger for many kids’ toys. A good rule of thumb: Start with larger toys and move to smaller toys as the child grows older.
Check product reviews before purchasing any toys. Most parents are critical of children’s products, so you are sure to find a wealth of product reviews online for any given child’s toy. Check the manufacturer’s website for product ratings and be sure to do an internet search for reviews on third-party sites such as Google and Amazon. Read the reviews carefully to see if parents with children around your child’s age had anything to say about a particular toy. Age-appropriate toys are important, but quality also matters. Poorly made toys that break and don’t hold up to wear and tear can injure children.
Children about 10 years or older will generally prefer more complex toys than younger kids, and parents should carefully review these toys before purchasing them. For example, chemistry sets or any play sets that involve mixing chemicals or making food could include toxic substances or heat sources that can cause serious burns. Make sure that any such toys you buy for a child do not include flammable or corrosive substances.
Older kids also tend to prefer electronic toys, and parents should make sure they only buy high-quality products. Make sure any electronic game system, tablet, or other electronic device is a legitimate product with UL approval, meaning the product meets acceptable safety standards for electronics. “Knockoff” or counterfeit electronics are common and parents should avoid them. Cheaply made imitations of larger manufacturers’ products generally don’t meet the same levels of quality and safety as the originals.
Ultimately, parents need to take the ages of their children into account as well as their children’s ability to understand how to play with toys appropriately. It’s also vital to consider the child’s changing interests and needs at various stages of growth. Do your research before making a purchase, supervise your child while playing, and be sure your child understands how a toy works to have the best chances of avoiding injuries.