Whether you plan to purchase toys for a holiday or another special occasion here are some things to consider before you buy:
Age and Development of the Child
Of course you want the child to enjoy the toy. Toys may be marked as to appropriate ages for that toy, but what if you are not sure? Children of the same age are not identical. Consider each child’s actual age, physical and cognitive development as you shop. Think about their habits and routines. Consult with the child’s parent if buying a toy for a child that is not your own. When you initiate the conversation it allows parents to express ideas for toys that are age appropriate for their child and toys that they would not want the child to have. Parents may also know that someone else is planning to get a particular toy, thus saving the need to return a duplicate item.
Cost of the toy
Does it fit into your budget? Are you using a charge card because you want to or because you have to. Remember, paying more isn’t a guarantee that you are getting a better item. Use common sense and avoid ‘impulse’ or ‘guilt’ shopping. Sometimes young children may be as interested in the box as they are with the toy. Consider a “certificate” for the child to do something with you as part of your gift, such as: bake cookies, go to the park, ride bicycles, build a snowman, or paint a picture. Creative gifts can extend the joy of gift giving and receiving.
Safety of the toy
Some common hazards to be aware of:
• Any toy or part that fits through a toilet paper tube should be avoided for children under age 3 or when the child puts things in their mouth to prevent choking hazards. Avoid button batteries around young children. Balloons can also pose a threat. Be aware that some building toys contain small but powerful magnets that could fall out and look like shiny candy to a child.
• Toys that seem too noisy for you are probably too loud for children’s sensitive ears. If you still want to get the toy, consider removing the batteries.
• Cords and drawstrings on hoods and jackets can pose a strangulation hazard. Mobiles should be removed from babies’ cribs before the child can push up (around 5 months.)
• Lead is hazardous for children. Hardware stores usually carry a home lead tester. PVC plastic contain phthalates which may cause developmental problems.
• When giving toys such as bikes, scooters, skateboards, and inline skates remember to include safety equipment such as helmets, knee/elbow pads, etc.
Websites to check for more information:
http://cpsc.gov Since 1995 the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has set CPSC standards and monitored toys that have been made or imported into the United States. They issue safety recalls. You can report unsafe toys at CPSC’s hotline 1-800-638-CPSC.
http://safekids.org As part of The National SAFE KIDS Campaign this website provides adults with fact sheets, links to other sites, and details about car seats and crib safety.
http://toysafety.net This site provides information about toy safety and is a project of the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs).
Choosing Safe Toys for School-Age Kids, Children’s Medical Center, Dayton, Ohio. http://www.childrensdayton.org/cms/kidshealth/1a4f706239b2045d/index.html, accessed December 12, 2012 2:42 p.m.
Smart Toys for Every Age, Children’s Medical Center, Dayton, Ohio.
http://www.childrensdayton.org/cms/kidshealth/9537e1915e26ea2/index.html, accessed December 12, 2012 2:30 p.m.
Tips For Toy Safety, U.S. Public Interest Research Group. http://uspirgedfund.org/resources/usf/tips-toy-safety, accessed December 12, 2012 2:50 p.m.
Authored by Pat Holmes, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension