As you search for the perfect fun, safe, and educational gifts for the babies and toddlers on your list, you may feel overwhelmed by the many options available. How do you know what to look for and what safety guidelines to follow? Rather than spending the time to do the research yourself, use this as your informative shopping guide as you tackle the little ones on your Christmas list.
Better to be Safe than Sorry
Toy safety is no laughing matter—in 2015 alone, children experienced approximately 254,200 toy-related injuries that had to be treated in hospital emergency departments. When deciding what toys to purchase, make sure to keep in mind some simple, straight-forward safety guidelines approved by the safety experts.
- Read the label: Most toys designate a recommended age right on the box. Use these recommendations as a starting point, but also stay mindful of your child’s abilities and stage of development so that you always purchase toys that are age appropriate. For example, if you have a 3-year old who tends to put objects in his or her mouth, purchasing a toy with small, removable pieces would not make an ideal choice.
- Avoid toxins: Remember to pay attention to what product manufacturers use to create a toy. Be sure your choice has not been made with harmful chemicals, such as Phthalates, or "plasticizers." Toy-makers use this chemical to make plastic more flexible and durable, and you’ll notice them as an ingredient in many toys. Cadmium, lead, mercury, and arsenic are other chemicals you can find in everything from dolls and action figures to children's jewelry and stuffed animals.
- Long strings and cord are off limits: We all know to tie up blinds and curtain cords, and the same philosophy applies to toys. Stay away from any string or cord that’s more than 12 inches long, as they can easily wrap around a young child's neck. If you’re shopping for a baby old enough to pull him or herself up in the crib, don’t purchase mobiles or hanging gyms.
- Bigger is better: Choking is a common and dangerous toy hazard. When looking at toys for small children, go for options that have pieces too big to swallow.
- Choose a well-made option: When it comes to safety, going for a high-quality, well-made toy will pay off in the long run. Cheap toys tend to break into pieces that can turn dangerous quickly. Older, hand-me-down toys that once were perfectly safe can cause unexpected problems. Keep this in mind when shopping at garage sales or before accepting a used toy from a friend or family member.
As Smart as They Come
Educational, brain-boosting toys can certainly help little ones develop active minds and strong motor skills. Now that you know what to watch for regarding safety keep the following recommendations in mind, so your baby or toddler gets the most out of their Christmas gifts.
- Blocks: Don’t underestimate block play—when children play with blocks, they develop fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, and even fundamental math concepts. According to Sharon MacDonald, a trainer of early-childhood teachers and author of Block Play(Gryphon House), "When your child works with blocks, he develops an understanding of fractions, shapes, and counting." MacDonald points to three stages of block play: tote and carry, stack and row, and bridging. As children grow, they’ll work through all three levels of play and learn new techniques at each stage.
- Play Ball: Did you know infants have the ability to track a ball with their eyes as it moves across the floor? Playing with a ball can be great fun and will help children learn about spatial awareness and other valuable scientific concepts. Balls of all shapes and sizes made of different materials make for hours of fun, educational play.
- Toy Friends: Plush stuffed animals, dolls, action figures and other “friends” make for educational play for children of all ages. In addition to developing language and thinking skills, imaginative play allows children to process emotions through acting out real-life scenarios. The benefits of imaginative play seem nearly endless, and your toy chest full of play friends facilitates this type of fun learning.
All that play makes your little ones hungry. A bag of Carrot Orange Biscotto makes a yummy treat. Peanut Mani or Babalu cookies are also great choices. As you shop for all the precious kiddos on your list, remember that Bambino’s Baby Food offers parents the highest quality baby food solutions to parents just like you. All of our products begin with ingredients grown in Alaska's pure, natural and untainted soils by certified organic and natural farmers, specifically for Bambino’s Baby Food. Our natural ingredients are never pre-frozen and go directly from the farmer straight into our meals. We guarantee parents quality and convenience. Our mission is simple: Real food parents can trust, and flavors children will love. Buy now by visiting our online store today!
The Consumer Products Safety Commission: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/Toy_Report_2015_0.pdf