How To Shop For Safe, Age-Appropriate Toys This Holiday Season

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The Holiday season is in full swing and the shopping is hitting its final lap. For those of us who still have a long list of names to check off, it is easy to forget the importance in picking age-appropriate toys for our smallest loved ones. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that about 186,000 children were taken to hospital emergency rooms in 2009 to be treated for toy-related injuries. We all want our little ones to be entertained and stimulated by the toys they receive but we must also remember to provide them with gifts that are safe. The way children play with toys has much to do with their age, physical and developmental growth. A few minutes spent researching a child’s activity at specific ages can be helpful when picking out the right toys.

Here are some good gift ideas!

Babies one to three months old enjoy lively and brightly colored toys. While they may not be able to manipulate toys at this age, they do enjoy watching and listening.

  • Musical toys
  • Unbreakable mirrors
  • Teethers
  • Brightly colored stuffed animals

Infants four to seven months of age enjoy grabbing, touching and shaking objects. They have a better ability to manipulate toys.

  • Soft squeeze toys and balls
  • Toys which have holes for easy gripping
  • Soft baby books made of vinyl or cloth
  • Floor gyms
  • A jumper to bounce in

Infants eight to twelve months begin to take an interest in exploring the surrounding environment as they are crawling more and learning to walk. At this age, children can throw, pull, push and drop. Playing with pop-up, musical and push-pull toys will be very engaging at this age.

  • Baby books made of cardboard
  • Pop-up boxes
  • Containers to empty and fill such as cups and small pails
  • Stackable toys in large sizes
  • Bath toys

From one to two years age, toddlers really start on their running, jumping, climbing and exploring. Toys that can be used in these activities would be great.

  • Big balls for throwing and kicking
  • Drawing and coloring books
  • Building blocks
  • Make believe toys (i.e. dinner sets and tools)
  • Wagons
  • Miniature lawn mowers, shopping carts and baby strollers

From three to five years of age a child will begin more imaginative and creative play. Group play will also be more enjoyable too. As communication skills develop, children will begin to show more interest in toys that can be shared with other children.

  • Musical instruments
  • Simple puzzles
  • Non-toxic arts and crafts
  • Card games
  • Sand and water toys
  • Toy telephones
  • Four-wheel riding toys (with a helmet)