The holidays seem more important than usual this year as the pandemic rages around us; we’re all looking for something to enjoy. And a big part of the fun of a family vacation is, of course, shopping for toys.
As parents, friends and family have decided to buy toys for the kids on their lists, here are some suggestions for things you should not buy – and which ones you should.
The buyer is wary when choosing toys
the US PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) has a list of types of toys that people should try to avoid. They include
- Loud toys. Loud noises can actually damage hearing. Considering the amount of noise we end up being exposed to over a lifetime and the ubiquitous use of headphones, you really don’t want to start early with extra noise. You can always mute the sound, but it’s probably best not to buy the toy.
- Vase. Apparently some brands have high levels of toxic boron! Make your own instead (there are many easy recipes for borax-free slime), or just skip it.
- Fidget spinners and other toys designed for adults. The “designed for adults” is the key point here; they don’t have to meet child safety standards.
- Anything that contains small parts if the child is under 3 years old – or if there is a child in the household who is less than 3 years old. Read the safety labels! If you’re not sure whether a room is too small, see if it fits through a toilet paper tube. If so, it’s too small. Also watch out for small attached pieces that might come loose, like the eyes of a stuffed animal.
- “Hatching” toys. As they hatch, they spawn little pieces that can become – you guessed it – choking hazards.
- Balloons. These are the main choking hazards for children. People under 3 years old should never have them, and those between 3 and 8 years old should be closely supervised.
- Toys and smart devices. They can collect data that you prefer not to share and could be hacked. Mozilla has a large Resource to help you determine which devices are more secure than others.
- Makeup. Apparently, it may contain asbestos and other toxic chemicals. Personally, I think young children shouldn’t wear makeup anyway.
- Magnets in toys. This is a big and important no for any child who might put the toy in their mouth (or for any child’s siblings who might). Small magnets in toys, many of which are 10 times stronger than traditional magnets, can be fatal if a child swallows more than one. They can connect through the walls of the intestine, causing blockages and punctures. In 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned the sale of these magnets, but after a lawsuit brought by a magnet company, the ban was stopped in 2016. emergency room visits for ingestion of magnets increased.
- Used and old toys. While most of them are probably good, they no longer have their security tag and you don’t know if they may have been recalled or if they were broken in a way that could make them less secure. .
What toys to buy instead
When it comes to children’s toys, “back to basics“Is the best: simple toys that encourage pretend play, creativity, fine motor skills, language skills and movement.” Think of things like dolls, puppets, costumes, trains, blocks and other building sets, balls, jump ropes, bikes, books – and, of course, all kinds of art supplies. These are the types of toys that provide the longest lasting kind of fun, the ones that require imagination and interaction and get kids moving, and help children in their development.
During the pandemic, I would suggest three types of toys in particular:
Toys without screens. With even preschoolers in remote schools, everyone has way too much screen time. So skip the electronics this year.
Toys that encourage exercise. We are all too sedentary these days. It’s great to go out and exercise, so things like bikes and balls can be great gifts. If the weather is too cold or you don’t have a lot of easily accessible outdoor space, find out what you can do indoors. Balls with a handle that you can sit on and bounce on are fun, as are balance boards, riding toys, springboards, or even indoor stiff ropes. A yoga mat can be used for all kinds of exercises. In addition to setting up home offices, it’s a good idea to create an exercise space if you can.
Toys you can play with together. We all spend so much time together so it’s great if we can have fun doing it. Look for games you can play as a family – there are so many. Or grab a train or a building kit that you can make together. We need each other more than ever before and we need to have fun; getting both at the same time is a wonderful holiday gift.
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