Some experts consider play time to be work for children, a critical part of their development. As work, kids need the right tools to get the job done well: good toys. We've selected some helpful Web sites that can teach you the importance of "child's play" and how to equip your kids with safe toys that will keep them happy, engaged, and active.
Finding great toys for kids isn't exactly rocket science but it does take some thought. The age, interests, and abilities of the child are all important considerations because a toy that's too advanced may become frustrating, and toys that are too simple may quickly get boring. The sites in this section discuss childhood development and can help you assess what toys may be a good fit for your child.
- Publications like Parents magazine and Parenting magazine devote entire sections of their sites to child development and toy selection for kids.
- Product reviews can tell you a lot about an item before you purchase it, and most online stores include customer ratings and comments. If customer reviews are sparse at the site you're using or you'd like some professional reviews, see our findingDulcinea Product Reviews Web Guide for some excellent review sites.
- Online toy stores divide their toys into categories in several ways, including age group, gender, and type of toy. Many also have a "most popular" or "best sellers" section that may help you narrow down your options if you aren't sure what toy to buy or if you can’t remember the exact name of the trendy toy your child has been asking for.
- Part of choosing safe toys involves being a diligent label reader. However, this article from Forbes warns that too many "blanket warnings" on products (eg., toys with small parts pose a choking hazard) could ultimately make the warnings seem meaningless.
For general guidance …
The Toy Industry Foundation
presents "Fun Play, Safe Play," a free, downloadable pamphlet that explains the importance of play time for children and discusses the interests and abilities of various age groups. Don’t miss the age-based toy buying guide in the pamphlet.
talks about how children use toys, what makes a good toy, and when you can reasonably expect your young child to be good at sharing toys. Use the small arrow near the bottom of the page to navigate to the following sections.
For toy safety considerations …
is a nonprofit organization that tests the safety of many consumer products. Look for ratings of a multitude of children’s products, including toys, in their "Babies & kids" section.
is a site from the Nemours Foundation. Find general guidelines for choosing children's toys with age-appropriate safety in mind.
The National Network for Child Care
has a helpful chart divided into specific categories of toys to choose and toys to avoid for children from newborn to 12 years of age. The chart was designed with safety considerations for each age group in mind.
For children with special needs …
United Cerebral Palsy
has a helpful article about choosing toys for children with physical limitations or other special needs. Find a list of several toy stores and other online resources where adaptive toys are available.
reviews toys for children with special needs. Start by reading the information under the "AblePlay Rating System" category to learn how the rating system works, what the ratings mean, and what an AblePlay Product Review includes. Use the “Search AblePlay-Rated Products” section to search for and purchase products rated by AblePlay.
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