It seems that several times each year there are reports in the news about baby toys that are no longer considered safe and are removed from the market. It can leave parents concerned and confused about how to find safe baby toys, and how to make sure that the toy investment will continue to be safe. There are several factors that you should consider when choosing toys for your baby. They include age guidelines, construction, electronic components, warranties, and educational and developmental value.
Look at the recommended ages on the packaging. These age recommendations, such as Ages 6 Months+, indicate to you the safety level as well. It tells you whether or not this toy is appropriate in skill level and safety for your baby.
- In general toys for ages birth to 5 months are limited as far as the interaction your child will get from it. During those months your baby will be most interested in eating, sleeping, and interacting with you through things like cuddling and babbling. Toy options might include teething rings, clutch balls, or a soft and silky hand blanket (great for playing peek-a-boo and snuggling).
- Between 6 and 12 months of age your baby will likely enjoy toys that are stackable, have doors, can nest, and make noise.
- Between 12 and 24 months your baby will be more mobile and will enjoy toys that move, such as riding wagons and push and pull toys. Cognitively your baby will also start to enjoy simple puzzles and sturdy picture books. Balls, toy telephones, plastic dishes, and other items that build their imaginations become more fun for them.
Before buying any toy for your baby, check to make sure that the construction of the toy is solid and there are no indications that parts will break off easily. Periodically check your baby’s toys for damage or wear and tear that could make the toy more dangerous. Loose parts can be a choking hazard.
Keep a limit on the electronics in your baby’s toy box. Not only can the batteries pose a danger to your child, but electronic toys can sometimes contribute to passive learning and decrease exploration and imaginative play.
You might not think about warranties for your baby’s toys because you know your baby will be outgrowing the toy probably sooner rather than later. However, warranties and registration information can be important indicators not only of quality, but of safety. Babies can be hard on their toys, testing the limits of how many times they can throw the toy down the stairs. A warranty on your toy investment might be worth the few minutes it takes to complete the form. Also, always complete that notification card and send it to the manufacturer in case of a recall in the future. That sometimes annoying card that is tucked in with the rest of the packaging can help to save you time and keep your kids safe. Once you complete those forms and send them in, you will be contacted at the number or address you provide in the event that the toy your child received has been recalled.
Educational and Developmental Value
When you select a toy for your baby, ask yourself this question: How will this toy help my child achieve healthy development? Some of the best toys for babies are simple and sturdy items they can stack, toys that encourage making predictions (such as pop-up toys), and toys that are versatile and can be used for more than one activity.
Don’t forget the magic of the kitchen cabinets and the closets, too. Plastic dishes, measuring cups, and small plastic bowls can be some of the best bath toys, and wooden spoons help complete the set for your little musician. Cardboard boxes can be used with older babies under supervision for fort building, boxcar making, and tunnels. Whatever toy you find for your baby, get down on the floor and play with him – you’re his favorite playmate.
[Featured Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]