The amount of toys available on the market has skyrocketed. Children are now faced with shelves upon shelves of toys, figures, dolls, games, and electronics, making it difficult for parents, relatives, and friends to choose an appropriate gift. Presenting even more of a concern are safety issues. With so many choices, how does an unsuspecting shopper find a suitable toy?
Toys should always be chosen based on the age of the child. Most toy manufacturers clearly state the appropriate age range for a particular toy right on the box, making it easier to narrow down the choices. Regardless of the child's age, all toys should be non-toxic and feature blunt edges.
Keeping the ages of other children in the household in mind is also helpful. Giving an older child a gift that contains many small pieces may be ideal, however, if the child has a younger sibling, an alternative may be required. When shopping for older children, ask their parents or caregivers about their interests; the older the child, the harder he or she will be to please.
Video games are popular with older kids but not all games are created for all ages. Some titles contain offensive language and violence that is more appropriate for teenagers and young adults. Fortunately, most games feature ratings on the packaging that make shopping a simple process.
When dealing with younger children, always avoid small pieces, especially marbles. Only buy toys that are specifically designed for young children, toddlers, or infants. Even stuffed animals may contain hidden hazards, such as a loose nose, accessories, or tags. Infants love to chew on stuffed toys and may choke on weak or removable parts. Small children should never play with items that contain oversized cords or strings.
While most kids love toys that are noisy, use caution with volume levels. Many toys have adjustable volume that can become quite loud, posing a risk to tiny ears. This is especially true for video and music players that feature headphones because it is impossible to check the maximum volume level of a particular item while it remains in the box.
With any toys, discard all wrap, twist ties, and bags right away; sometimes the packaging presents more of a hazard than the toy itself. Small children love to play with boxes, but there may be a tie or two left behind. Common sense is crucial.
Once a toy reaches home, it should be checked periodically for signs of wear. Batteries should be replaced regularly, toys should be inspected for loose parts, and broken toys need to be retired.
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