December 1, 2011

Really organized parents in Portland will have all their Christmas presents bought and wrapped and tagged. The rest of us are still wondering just how busy the stores will be on Saturday. What we shouldn’t be wondering about, though, is whether we’ve unwittingly purchased a dangerous toy.

In this day and age of medication commercials with disclaimers about possible side effects and risks of death, anyone purchasing a toy or a game for a child should know enough to look for warning labels on the packaging. At times, though, those warnings are overwhelming. Is your child a mature 3 for a toy marked as appropriate for ages 4 to 6? Is your child close enough to 6 — his birthday is in February — to use the really cool toy he’s been asking for since July?

Child safety and development experts have a few pointers that can make it easier to differentiate the naughty toys from the nice ones. And, as one pediatrician says, play is a child’s job. It should be safe and rewarding — and appropriate for the child’s abilities.

First, don’t skip over the warning labels. Of course a bag isn’t a toy, but labels include more than what seems obvious to you. There may be choking hazards or parts with sharp edges that you don’t know about.

Second, there really is research behind the age ranges. Children develop what researchers call “capacity” during the first four years. The child’s brain triples in size during that time. After that, the focus shifts to skill building. It’s more than we can go into here, but the point remains: Look at the age ranges.

We’ll finish this up in our next post — just in the St. Nick of time.

Source: USA Today, “Choose toys wisely for safe holiday play,” Darla Carter, Dec. 2, 2011


Categories: Blog