5 tips for giving the right kids’ gift
As the holiday season approaches, many people will be looking for the right gift for their loved ones, especially the children in their life. With all the options out there, finding a gift that is safe and appropriate for children at their age can be challenging. There are a few simple tips you can follow to make sure your gift is a great option.
Pay attention to the age recommendation on the label
“Don’t ignore the age recommendation on the product label,” said Dr. Peter Cote, pediatrician and internist at Aurora Health Center – Good Hope. “Avoid small objects that could be a choking hazard, especially toys with small batteries or high-powered magnets for younger children.”
Check what toys are made of
“Natural materials like uncoated wood and cotton are best, but make sure to avoid old wooden toys with chipped paint as these may contain lead,” said Dr. Cote. “If you’re using plastic toys, one of the safest plastics is polypropylene. Look for labels that say non-toxic or phthalate-free, PVC-free and BPA-free. It’s best to stay away from plastic toys with recycling codes #3, #6 and #7.”
Sign up to receive any toy recall notices
If you want to make sure that a product hasn’t been recalled for a safety issue, you can check at recalls.gov or look up a specific toy at cpsc.gov. You can even sign up for email notifications of about recalls to give yourself peace of mind that any toys you buy are safe for children.
Avoid overstimulating kids with too much screen time or noise
If you’re looking for an electronic toy or to give something with a screen, there are a few things to keep in mind. All electronic toys should be UL certified. Avoid electronic toys that are very loud and overstimulating — these aren’t helpful for a child’s development, and their parents will probably thank you for steering clear of these, too.
“When it comes to screen time, it’s important that programming is high-quality. It also can help a lot for parents to ‘co-view’ with their children to help them process what they are viewing,” said Dr. Cote. “For children under 18 months, avoid screen time. Once children are between 18 months and five years old, you can introduce limited screen time with high quality programming. For children over five, parents should make a consistent plan and try to keep screen time below two hours a day.”
Focus on simple and creative toys
A variety of toys focused on different domains of development help children to grow and learn. These can be toys that help children work on their fine motor skills, like blocks and trains, or gross motor skills like large toy cars, tricycles and push and pull toys. Toys that help children be physically active and engaged in their play are a great idea.
“Toys don’t need to be electronic or costly in order to foster development,” said Dr. Cote. “In fact, the simplest toys allow the child to use their imagination to create a form of play with the toy. Toys that encourage pretend play like dolls or cooking help children exercise their imagination. You can also get toys like clay and coloring books to promote creativity as well as board games, toy letters and books to help them grow in their language and cognitive development.”
Now is the perfect time to make an appointment with a primary care physician. Whether you live in Illinois or Wisconsin, it’s easy to find a doctor near you.
About the Author
Ben Hoekstra is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. He previously worked in marketing and PR for various Milwaukee nonprofits and received his master’s degree in Corporate Communications from Marquette University. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and all things Milwaukee.