Parents should be cautious as they gather up gifts for the holiday season. “Think about the child’s age and developmental level and read instructions and warning labels to make sure that it is the right toy for the child,” said Bethany Folsom, health educator for the pediatric trauma injury prevention program at CS Mott Children’s Hospital and coordinator for Safe Kids Huron Valley.
Toys should have age recommendations. No matter what your child is interested in, safety should be a top priority. “Be aware of small parts and choking hazards when buying for younger children and make sure to secure batteries, especially button batteries, in place,” said Folsom.
As awareness grows, eco-friendly gifts are becoming more popular. “Anything that is made from renewable sources is always the best for the environment,” said Folsom.
These eco-friendly gifts do not have to be fancy to be loved. “There is something to be said about the basics of building blocks that are a staple, because any young toddler can make anything; play is open-ended and helps build the imagination,” said Judy Alexander, owner of Camden Rose, an Ann Arbor store that sells natural toys and home goods for environmentally conscious families. There are benefits to choosing natural toys. “Natural materials feel better in the hands of kids than plastic, which is cold when you touch it,” said Alexander. Wool or cotton feel warm and more like the real world. “Anything natural, once your child is done with it can be passed onto someone else, will not easily be broken and is always a treasure,” said Alexander.
Some gifts are gender-specific. “Kitchens and doll stuff are very popular for girls,” said Alexander. Keep it simple. “Use the European-based model where instead of having a whole bunch of toys, have a few select high quality toys that go a long way,” said Alexander.
When it comes to safety, gifts to keep your child active are also popular. “If you buy ad bike or riding toy as a gift do not forget a helmet,” said Folsom. Also for safety, steer clear of anything that was not painted in the USA or does not have the CE (European conformity) certification mark.
A few simple tips, and paying attention to safety when gift giving, can go a long way.