Play is a natural activity for every young child. Play provides many opportunities for children to learn and grow-physically, mentally and socially. If play is the child's work then toys are the child's tools, and appropriate toys can help children do their work well.
Young children explore objects in their environment by "mouthing" them. Children can choke to death on such items. These items include toys (such as balloons and small balls), and household and food items (such as hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, coins, batteries, etc.). Although toys intended for young children should be free of small parts that could cause a choking incident, toys intended for older children may find their way into the hands of younger children. Reminder: Be sure to keep ALL small items out of the hands of children who mouth objects, especially children under the age of three. Remind three and four year olds to keep such items out of their mouths. Instruct older children to keep these items out of reach of younger children.
This series of articles offers suggestions for selecting suitable toys for children, from birth to 5 years of age. It was prepared by the U S Consumer Product Safety Commission, the government agency that is charged with protecting the public against unreasonable risks of injury associated with consumer products.
A parent or friend choosing a toy for a child must consider several things. A good toy should be:
- safe for that child's age, well constructed, and durable;
- appealing and interesting to the child;
- suited to the child's physical capabilities, and
- suited to the child's mental and social development.
This series of articles provides some guidelines to help in selecting toys that meet these criteria. The suggestions in these articles are based on three sources (I) review of reference works on child development, (2) observations of children at play, and (3) product analyses of toys to determine which characteristics are most critical in defining the appropriate ages of the intended users.
This articles are organized in the following way
Brief outlines of childrens' ABILITIES AND INTERESTS are followed by categorized TOY LISTS for each of five age groups.
The five age groups are:
- Young infants (birth to 6 months)
- Older infants (7 to 12 months)
- Young toddlers (1 year olds)
- Older toddlers (2 year olds)
- Preschoolers (ages 3, 4 and 5)
ABILITIES AND INTERESTS sections list physical, mental and social abilities and interests for each age that are particularly relevant to selecting appropriate toys. Note that these lists indicate average development-the age range at which the 'average'' child can he expected to achieve a particular skill or develop a specific interest. The ages in the text are only approximate. Children develop skills at uneven rates-any one child may be 'above average' in one skill and 'below average' in another skill. For an individual child, the parent is the best judge of the child's abilities and interests at any point in his or her development, and should select toys suitable for that child's profile of capabilities.
TOY LIST sections give toy suggestions in six major categories with subcategories under each to help in finding a particular toy type. The major categories and subcategories are listed on the following page. Note that these sections do not constitute a comprehensive list of all toy products that might be suitable for a particular age. They do suggest general toy types suitable for that age group. These article do not judge the play value or benefits of specific toys. For example, suitable types of projectile toys are described in the TOY LISTS, although the potential safety hazards of these toys lead many in the field to recommend against them.
ALL TOYS (a general category orienting the consumer to special features of toys that are relevant to the particular age group).
- Push and Pull Toys
- Ride-On Toys
- Outdoor and Gym Equipment
- Sports Equipment
- Construction Toys
- Pattern-Making Toys
- Manipulative Toys
- Dressing, Lacing and Stringing Toys
- Sand and Water Play Toys
- Stuffed Toys
- Role Play Materials
- Play Scenes
- Transportation Toys
- Projectile Toys
- Musical Instruments
- Art and Craft Materials
- Audio-Visual Equipment
- Specific Skill Development Toys