Giving a new toy to your toddler can be as much fun for you as it is for your child. Seeing those big eyes light up and the joy on that little face is enough to send you back to the store for another. But how can you know the toys you are giving are appropriate?
Choosing toys for toddlers comes with a unique set of challenges, most of which are due to toddlers’ insatiable curiosity that has them plopping toys into their mouths and otherwise “exploring” their favorite things. Because of these natural tendencies and to help them avoid accidents and injuries, choose toys for this age group carefully, based on the following guidelines.
Think big. Toddlers don’t yet know how to use their hands as well as we do, so they realize early on that they can learn a lot by putting things into their mouths. Because of this, toys for this age need to be larger than what they can swallow. If a toy (or a detachable piece of it) can fit in the inside of a toilet paper roll, it’s too small.
Be strong. Avoid delicate items that could break easily and instead choose toys made of strong materials with no sharp edges or points. If the toy has a battery compartment, be sure that it is secured closed with screws so it can’t be easily pried open.
Get registered. When you purchase a toy, be sure to register your purchase with the manufacturer. This helps ensure you receive any recall notices or safety alerts, which is a great way to stay aware of any safety concerns.
Keep it real. Learning toys are hands down the best toys for any age group, but be realistic about what types of activity your toddler can enjoy. Working on recognition of basic shapes, colors, and some letters and numbers is appropriate for this age – but go too advanced and you’ll be left with a frustrated and disappointed child.
Strive for quality. Plush toys that are well sewn, electronic toys that are “UL approved,” plastic toys with smooth edges and tight joints, and those that are decorated with nontoxic paints may cost more than cheap versions, but the safety that comes with them are worth the extra cost.
Know what’s what. More than anything, try to give your toddler toys that he or she would really love. Do you have a budding artist? An explorer? A rough-and-tumble athlete? Toys that encourage and help them explore their interests will become long-time favorites.
As a parent or caregiver, your job isn’t done when you’ve found the perfect toy to share with your toddler. Even with “safe” toys, always supervise your little ones carefully and know that the pediatricians at Kelsey-Seybold are here to help you learn how to keep your children safe, playful, and happy. Schedule an appointment with a Kelsey-Seybold pediatrician today to discuss any concerns you may have about your toddler’s health or safety.
Dr. Jennifer Lai is a board-certified pediatrician at Kelsey-Seybold’s Tanglewood Clinic. She’s accepting appointments for kids of all ages. Her clinical interests include general Pediatrics, newborns, autism, and obesity.