The holidays are upon us. It is time for family gatherings and traditions. It is also that time of the year for an overload of toys for our children.
I have fond memories of my daughter at Christmas-time surrounded by all the toys that grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and I had bought for her. It was always comical (and sometimes frustrating) that she found the wrapping paper and the box in which the toy was packaged more exciting than the toy itself. If I would have known this, I could have saved so much money!
In any case, the following are some ideas for deciding what to give your child for a holiday or birthday.
There are several things to keep in mind when picking out developmentally-appropriate toys for children. It is most imperative to consider whether the toy is safe for your child. For babies and toddlers, this means making sure there are not any small parts that your child could choke on. If the toy, or part of the toy, can fit through a toilet paper tube, children could choke on it if they put it in their mouth, and it is too small to play with.
Additionally, most stores will pull recalled toys from their shelves; however, if you receive a hand-me-down toy or purchase a second-hand store toy, you might want to check the recall list yourself. This can be found by accessing the Consumer Product Safety Commissionís website at www.cpsc.gov.
It is also important to consider your childís age when picking out a toy. If children receive a toy that is beyond their recommended age level, they might get frustrated and upset. Similarly, if they receive a toy that is below their recommended age level, they might get bored when playing with it.
The best toys to get for a child are those that can be used in different ways (i.e., blocks, nesting cups, play animals, Play-Doh). These toys can encourage your childís imagination to use the toy in multiple ways of play. And, of course, it is always a good idea to take into consideration your baby or toddlerís temperament, interests and personality when selecting a toy. For example, if your toddler likes to explore her environment using her senses (taste, touch, sight and hearing), give her toys that have interesting shapes, sounds and textures.
Toddlers and preschoolers start using toys in different ways to practice new skills, mimic the world around them and use their imagination. Toys that represent items they see in the real world (i.e., workbench, doll house, baby cradle, toy cars) will be a big hit. They will also typically enjoy toys that allow them to be creative (i.e., art supplies, stickers, and sand and water toys).
Finally, let your child play with the cardboard box or wrapping paper. This will allow him to explore something interesting.
No matter what you decide for your child this holiday season, you are sure to remember and cherish these moments with your youngster. Have fun and enjoy!
Jessica Keitz, MSW, LSW is the family education coordinator for the Family Center of Durango located at 489Ĺ Florida Road.