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Selecting toddler toys is an important task: look for safety, education and, above all, fun

Posted by Andrea Elliott on Jun 12th 2012

The truth is that for toddlers everything is educational, so in selecting the proper toys for this age group look for age appropriateness and for toys that will actually engage their natural curiosity and imagination

Selecting toys for toddlers is an important task. Once little ones get up and start walking, the world is opening up to them and their brains are developing at a rapid pace, so it’s important to get toys that are engaging and interesting to them, toys that inspire them to pull and play and invent fun games. Of course, toys for the age group 1-5 also have to be safe and very durable, because babies and young children are exploring their world with all of the senses, which means they will use their mouths and they will increasingly, as they age, use their muscles and test the limits of the toy.

One of the biggest mistakes some parents make when selecting toys for young children is to try and push them beyond their capabilities. It is doubtful that even Einstein himself, for instance, could read at a very early age. Studies clearly show that children will indeed become bored with something that no longer stimulates their interest, but these same studies show that children also reject things they deem too complicated. That’s why toy makers go to a great deal of effort to figure out age-appropriate toys for the various stages of development – both mental and physical – and mark the toys with the recommended target age.

There are two basic concerns to consider when selecting toys for toddlers: safety and education.

HABA My First Ball Track SetsToy safety

The safety issue is perhaps the most paramount because no parent would want to place their child in harm’s way. Everyone is at least aware of some of the most basic safety issues, but it bears repeating. Small parts and pieces are simply a no-no because toddlers will put things in their mouths and there is the risk of choking. Something else to look for is magnets; some toys have magnets that are glued on or screwed in, but children are rough players and if it’s possible to detach that part, they will figure it out. Swallowing magnets is definitely something to avoid.

Also, we have all probably heard of the dangers of lead and there are very strict laws, rules and regulations governing and banning the use of lead in the manufacture and decoration of children’s toys. Once again, this is an issue of ingesting the lead, like that contained in some paints and resins. No toys sold in the U.S. should contain any toxic materials like lead, but you just never know and should check the certifications from the toy makers. Sometimes toys are passed down from older siblings or indeed even parents, or they are picked up at a garage sale or flea market – in these cases a lead testing kit can be purchased online that can help in allaying fears.

Another safety issue is other choking hazards, like toys with cords. The toy might look to the parents like it only can be used for its intended purpose, but no 2-year-old read that manual; a child will use it to the limits of his or her own imagination so, essentially, anything can happen. Same is true for pinching hazards, like with some wheels; little fingers will find these spots in their search for knowledge. Here again, it is best to stay with toys recommended for the age of the child.

While it is a growing area of concentration and interest in the modern world, electronics and anything with electricity are not good ideas for toys or playthings for young children. Similar to what was noted earlier, that iPad or toy with some form of electricity may look relatively harmless, but you never know when a young child’s imagination will lead to seeing how it works and trying to take it apart. The influential medical website WebMD is on record saying that children younger than 8 years old should not play with electronics and electronic toys, at least not without close adult supervision.

While most toys are made under strict guidelines, danger can still lurk. To be on the safe side it is recommended that parents search out any known toy hazards and a good place to begin is the website of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/category/toy.html which maintains detailed lists and details about all of the toy recall ordered. This list is very up to date and extends back to the year 1975.

Educational Building Blocks from HABAEducational toys

Many toys are labeled “educational” as that phrase is now an important selling feature for children’s things. But the thing to remember is that everything to a child is educational. You can buy the latest and greatest toy and a 2-year-old is just as likely to take the box it came in and play for hours making up games and adventures.

Experts advise that it is a good thing to push the child as much as he or she seems to want to go, but development is development and a toy meant for a 6-year-old will only confuse the 2-3-year-old and they won’t play with it. Age appropriateness is, as usual, a key element. The important thing in a toy is that it is fun for that child – fun is learning; no fun and the toy will sit idle.

HABA Toys specializes in educational fun in children’s toys. Since our founding in Germany in 1938 and beginning with high-quality and handcrafted wooden toys that become heirlooms, HABA makes high-quality toys that are delightfully enlightening, leaving plenty of room for imagination.

Small children love to play and learn with building blocks, blocks with their first letters and first numbers, great dolls and stacking toys, finger puppets, and much more. We make a line of handcrafted wooden fruits, like apples, tomatoes and strawberries, and a complete line of food items for playing store. We have domino games, pull toys, strollers (prams), basic puzzles, bath toys and beach toys, games, wooden animals, farm animals, walkers and more.

Our toy “inventors” are toy engineers and in each design goes experience, expertise and testing to find just the right kind of toys that children will actually want to play with again, again and again. HABA Toys have won dozens of awards over the years from such distinguished sources as Creative Child Magazine, Tillywig awards for Top Best Family Fun and Top Fun, The National Parenting Center, Parenting Magazine, Education.com, and Parents Choice. Check out our Toddler Toys and our Preschool Toys by using the hot links to those pages on the website. There you will find hundreds of choices appropriate – and most importantly fun and education – for children within these age ranges that will delight them and spur their imaginations.

HABA makes high-quality toys under strict guidelines that meet and/or exceed all safety standards. They are sold throughout the U.S. at finer toy shops and stores, as well as through a few select online distributors. For complete information call HABA at 800-468-6873, contact us on the HABA USA Facebook page, or email at info@HABAusa.com.