The first few years of a kid are the more curious ones. This is the time when he/she is attracted to everything colorful, bright and animated. However, when it comes to toys, it is more than it meets the eye. What might look to be “cute” might actually be a first of its kind learning experience or even quite risky. It is the job of the parent to choose wisely when it comes to toys.
As such, a toy should be appropriate to the age, development stage and adaptability of a child. In case, a child is unable to manipulate or even understand the toy (how it works, what is does, etc); it is too complicated for his/her age. Coming to the safety part, it is also not advisable to buy toys with removable parts as they will obviously go into the mouth of the kid and may result in choking and in some cases, even more dangerous outcomes. The general recommendations for buying a toy can be clubbed into the “S” Rule. “S” stands for size, shape, surface and strings.
- The smaller a kid, the bigger should be his/her toy
- No toys for kids should have rough or pointed edges
- The surface of toys should always be non-flammable and non-toxic
- Toys for the young (below 5 years) should not integrate any kind of ropes, cords, strings or ribbons
Things to remember while buying toys for kids
- A toy should be able to involve and engage the kid. While too easy toys become boring and will be a waste of money, too hard ones will only make the child more confused and irritable.
- Focus on age recommendation and child safety. Toys are always labeled showcasing a definite age group it is recommended for.
- Always monitor toys for broken parts and parts that can be detached from the main body. It is likely that children below three years of age will be putting it in their mouths, presenting a physical risk.
- Don’t go for moving toys which have the potential to pinch, trap or cuts the soft skin of a kid. This will also include items such as stickers and labels which can be dangerous for small kids.
- If you have kids in different age group in the same household, have separate spaces for storage.
- In case a toy is broken or scratched, it is always good to throw them away of keep it in a place inaccessible to the kid.
- Don’t buy toys that present speed and can be dangerous if used irresponsibly. E.g.: paintball gun, water guns, etc.
- Outdoor toys need to come with impact absorption properties, e.g., trampolines
- Make sure that the toy material is non-toxic, weather resistant and non-flammable
Different toys for different age groups
Birth – 12 months: Toys for this age group present the senses of sight, touch, sound and sometimes, even taste. They should be lightweight, easy to grasp, smooth, big enough not to be swallowed and non-toxic. Good examples would be large balls, push-pull toys and early walkers.
1 – 3 years: Toys for toddlers will focus more on physical play and allow the kid to use his energy and build muscle control. However, make sure they aren’t pointed or toxic as the kid isn’t grown enough to understand the consequences. Examples would be baby strollers, housekeeping tools, sports sets, small bats, some board games.
3 – 5 years: Pre-schoolers have grown old enough to make out the heads and tails of a particular toy and thus can be gifted a little complicated items. Examples would be doll houses, modeling clay, washable crayons, construction sets, character toys, etc.