Ask any child what they like most about the holidays and chances are they will say, “toys!” While new toys are indeed exciting, parents and grandparents should also make sure they are safe. One of the best ways to ensure toy-related safety is to buy age-appropriate gifts.
Age-appropriate means a particular toy is suitable for a child’s age and stage of development. Children go through different learning stages as they grow from newborns to adolescents, and each stage allows for differing levels of maturity. Children under 3 years old, for example, might enjoy Legos but they may lack the cognitive maturity to avoid putting them in their mouth and risk choking. Shopping for the perfect gift would ideally involve knowing your loved one’s developmental stage, which is usually, but not always, related to their age.
Toy manufacturers often include age recommendations on toy boxes and packages as a way of providing parents and gift-givers with short-hand purchasing guidelines. Age determinations are established by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which considers the physical development, cognitive development, emotional development, and social development of children when determining appropriate ages for toys.
Manufacturers also use market research to pinpoint the ages of children who can enjoy their toys safely. Other factors include:
- Expected knowledge of the developmental stages of children.
- Observations of children interacting with toys.
- Input from parents of young children regarding the age-appropriateness of toys.
- History of similar toys.
Keep in mind that age recommendations are one-size-fits-all guidelines that may not apply to every family. Parents can alleviate potential risks by showing their children how to use new toys safely and supervise them when they play. Parents should also instruct older children to keep their toys out of reach when younger children are around, and then properly store all toys when playtime is over.
Toys are a great way to have fun and stimulate young minds. There is no need to exceed reasonable safety limits when purchasing gifts this holiday season, especially when spending quality time playing with a child may be the best gift of all. If you feel your child or grandchild has been harmed by a toy, contact an experienced attorney on our team, 24 hours a day, to learn more about their rights.