I just spent some time in NYC and it was part family vacation and part toy conferences. Included was a lunch at The Toy Association where we heard from ‘Safety Mom’, Joan Lawrence about toy safety standards. I share a lot of toy posts and videos on this blog and our social channels and after listening to the safety talk I felt it was worth it to take some time to share some toy safety information with you. Most of all you would need to know is available at The Toy Association website and in some of their online resource sites such as Genius of Play and a re-vamped toy safety site coming very soon!
I took in all the aspects of toy safety and two standards stuck out most that I will discuss! First, is toy storage! I have discussed the story of my cousin’s baby, Eddie who was in a drowning accident and is still suffering form the effects of his drowning.
When you have a pool, for instance, little ones are drawn to not only the water but the fun toys and balls around the pool. If those are left out, in or around the pool, the little ones will go after them all while forgetting the obvious such as not knowing how to swim or even noticing the barrier of water between them and the toy. This is the same for toys or bikes near a road. They become so tunnel vision around fun and play and may not notice the division between road and sidewalk or even forget that cars could be coming as they dart into the road for a toy or ball.
Moving indoors, you have fall and small parts issues. Properly storing indoor toys means avoiding tripping injuries, most of which happen to adults who fall over children toys. It is also worth noting that by properly storing the older kids toys helps keeps their smaller toys away from younger siblings who may not be at the proper age for that toy. This brings me to the second safety topic…
Age-appropriate recommendations on the toy packaging are for SAFETY! They are not about ability (per-say) or how smart you think your child is. It is an age printed on the packaging that has all the safety standards in mind. It may be due to sharp edges, moving parts, batteries or small magnets that all pose dangers to smaller children.
So…follow the age-recommendations also found at Genius of Play from The Toy Association!
Birth to 6 Months: Remember that any toys should not be left in cribs or sleep areas. Also, once a child can pull to stand, all infant toys should be removed. As they grow stronger, these infant toys may give way under weight if used to pull up or break under stronger manipulation. Shop for toys with lights and sounds, colors: black and white or high contrast colors. Keep teething in mind with textured toys that may go into the mouth.
6-12 Months: Their motor skills are really taking off. Now they are ready for toys that stack, open & shut and even create banging noises. Once they start crawling, they love toys that move with them. This is the age to introduce their first ride-on that use their own feet to move. In the summer you can introduce the sandbox and bring out child-size table and chairs.
1-2 Years: They are always on the go now! Physical play that keeps them engaged is essential to keep them learning and growing. This is a fun age to introduce role-playing. Introduce them to puppets, toy kitchens, playhouses and some shape sorters and learning toys.
2 to 3 Years: Now they have gone from walking and running to climbing and jumping. Their eye hand-eye coordination skills are beginning to really excel and arts and crafts begin to be a fun new task at this age. Bring home the dolls and let’s start dressing and bathing them! They love balls and toys to chase at this age. Wagons and training bikes are great for outdoor play.
3 to 6 Years: Let the play dates begin (and sharing wars). So let’s find great group play toys at this age. From friends to active imaginations this opens up an entire realm of toy possibilities from age-appropriate board games, construction toys like larger Legos and Duplos and puzzles and non-toxic art supplies.
6 to 9 Years: They know everything now (well, if you ask them). Strategy and skill play is great at this age and there are so many STEM-inspired options these days. There are also fun classics for this age such as marble runs and kites for outdoor play. Find them arts and crafts sets, magic kits, building kits, action figures, bikes you can start to remove training wheels on, electronic games and more!
9-12 Years: With this being the top of the age scale it is very important to remember that by now (and even years earlier), they have toys with hazardous parts that may harm their young siblings! At this late age they have hobbies and enjoy crafts and building still at a more advanced level. Sports games and gear as well as strategy boards games and electronics are popular at this age. Just be careful about the electronics that connect them to the outside web world and maintain supervision.