There’s no doubt that watching little faces light up as they open their gifts is one of the greatest joys for adults during birthdays and holidays. While you want to give them something fun and exciting, keep a few things in mind while shopping for the child in your life to ensure that you’re picking toys that are beneficial, safe, and easily accessible.
- Over Stimulating Toys - Big, loud, plastic toys with all the bells and whistles tend to make an appearance during birthdays and Christmas, as adults want to pick something with a big “wow” factor. While these toys may initially receive an enthusiastic reaction, studies show that they can actually over stimulate children. Too many loud noises, bright lights and colors, and moving parts are a lot to take in for a young mind, which is why you often see babies and toddlers forgo a big-ticket noise maker for the box it came in instead. Studies have also shown that toys that overwhelm children with input can block creativity and cognitive development. The best toys are those that encourage exploration and give children the space to think. Think blocks, dolls, cars, action figures, and the like. Anything that asks the child to call on their imagination is the way to go.
- Toys with Small Parts - This may seem like an obvious one to the seasoned parent, but it can be easy to forget that small parts on toys are choking hazards for young children. While many toy companies take this into consideration, it’s a good idea to stay vigilant and check a potential gift for this possibility. The CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act) defines “small parts” as any object that fits completely into a cylinder that’s 2.25 inches long and 1.25 inches wide, as this is the typical size of a fully expanded throat for a child under 3 years of age.
- Toys That Require Excessive Amounts of Adult Help - If it requires an exorbitant amount of adult participation, you may be setting your child up for disappointment and frustration. While it might be exciting to open up a cool science experiment kit or gadget, avoid toys that require a complicated assembly or special tools (who has a miniscule screwdriver to open those teeny tiny battery slots in a lot of electronic toys?) Even something that needs constant adult supervision could become a nuisance (we’re looking at you, glitter-laden art sets). A good toy is one that a child can access easily and at their leisure so playtime can happen spontaneously!