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Toys are a part of childhood, and a part of learning, for children of all ages. However, there are guidelines that need to be considered when purchasing toys.

Parents, friends and family will be purchasing toys for children of all ages as the holidays approach. In the U.S., over 3 billion toys are sold each year.

Tips for Gifting Toys

  • Ensure that toys being bought or gifted are age appropriate. If there are different age groups within a household, separate the various age appropriate toys to limit access and support safety.
  • Avoid toys with small parts that may present as a choking hazard for small children and siblings of older children.
  • Remember to include helmets when purchasing or gifting toys with wheels such as scooters, bicycles and skateboards. Starting early is important to allow children the opportunity to become accustomed to wearing safety gear. 
  • If purchasing battery operated toys, ensure that the batteries are secured in place so that they are not easily accessible for small children.
  • Purchase toys that encourage pretend play, boost language skills and promote physical play such as:
    • Cooking with pots and pans
    • Playing board games
    • Building with blocks
    • Playing imaginary games
    • Solving puzzles 
    • Setting up obstacle courses

Tips for Digital Toys

We live in a world of technology, including cell phones, iPads and many other electronic devices. These gifts are readily available for children of all ages. Managing the proper amount of screen time can be challenging for parents. These devices may provide positive and educational forums for children. But, only with parental guidance and age appropriate awareness, can positive and healthy screen use be promoted. 

Your child is never too young for a screen time plan. Consider the following guidelines from The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry:

  • Until 18 months of age: limit screen use to video chatting along with an adult (for example, with a parent who is out of town).
  • Between 18 and 24 months: screen time should be limited to watching educational programming with a caregiver.
  • For children ages 2-5: limit non-educational screen time to about one hour per weekday and three hours on the weekend days.
  • For ages 6 and older: encourage healthy habits and limit activities that include screens.
  • Turn off all screens during family meals and outings.
  • Learn about and use parental controls. 
  • Avoid using screens as pacifiers, babysitters, or to stop tantrums.
  • Turn off screens and remove them from bedrooms 30-60 minutes before bedtime.

Positive and healthy screen use is possible with proper guidance and consistency. Supervision is key.

Monitor play time and screen time for older children. Evaluate the programs, games and apps before allowing your child to view or play with them. Encourage movement and imagination. 

View more recommendations from The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

 

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