If you’ve got toddlers, chances are your house is littered with toys. With doting grandparents, aunts and uncles looking to spoil and countless kids parties, your precious little one probably has more toys than he can handle. But playtime is crucial in his development. Those little gadgets don’t just exist for you to stub your toe on when shuffling to the bathroom in the middle of the night. They promote creativity, problem solving skills, socialization and increased interaction with the world around him. Yet there are plenty of horror stories out there surrounding toddlers that were given dangerous toys and ran into trouble. Toys should never cause that sort of worry. So here are five tips to help you select safe toys for toddlers.
First off, always read the labels before you take anything home from the store. Today’s toys are always marked for use by a specific age range. This is especially important when your children are very young, when they tend to put pretty much everything in their mouths. The box should clearly note if there are small pieces that might be a choking hazard, or if there’s anything else in the box you should be concerned about. Keep in mind that not all kids fall exactly within these average age ranges. Make sure you take your child’s actual ability level in mind, and match the toy appropriately.
Consider safety gear if certain toys require it. No child should be without a tricycle or Hot Wheels. How many memories do you have of tooling around your driveway on these little vehicles? But though it may be sized appropriately for them, spills can still hurt an awful lot. So think about pads and helmets to make sure they can use these toys safely. It’s important to buy this stuff at the same time as you buy the toys themselves, so you don’t end up facing a temper tantrum when your toddler can’t use the new toy right away.
If you’re not sure about a toy, don’t be afraid to ask some experts. For example, Toys R Us is one chain that has been serving families for decades. Many of their employees have been there for a long time, and are well-trained in the world of toys. If you’ve picked up a toy that you’re unclear about, bring it to their attention. They’ll know far more about it than you will, and can point you in a different direction if something different may be more appropriate.
Make sure that the box that contains any toy you are considering is in good condition before you bring it home. The tape should be tight, the box in one piece and everything clean and unbent. The goal is to make sure that the toy wasn’t damaged in transit from the warehouse to the store. When you open the toy up at home, inspect all of the pieces before letting your toddler play with it. Keep an eye out for chips or damaged pieces that could create sharp edges. Look through the instructions and the warranty as well. If there’s anything else you’ll need to consider it will be written here.
Finally, stay up to date on any news reports concerning new toys. This will certainly be important around the holidays, when every kid is asking for one of the best toys in 2013. There’s always that handful of toys that sell out in a hurry, and by doing a couple hours of research online, you’ll be able to uncover any recalls or questions raised by parents’ organizations about a certain toy. You should even be able to find some groups that offer information on any toy recalls that are published. Sign up to get an email alerting you to this activity, and you’ll never come home with a dangerous toy for your toddler.