If you have children of varying ages or are trying to buy gifts for a family who does, it can be a chore to find toys that toddlers will love but won’t hurt baby siblings. Here are some tips we’ve compiled with some help from the American Academy of Pediatrics to make your shopping experience a little easier:
Age-old question. Is the toy age-appropriate? Toys that have large age ranges, such as designated for children 6 to 36 months old, are like hitting the toy lottery. Both tots can play with the items without risk or worry.
Stack it. Large blocks are a win-win. Toddlers like stacking them, and babies like sucking on them. But beware of smaller blocks or connector pieces that may be included.
Take it outside. Toddlers can hop on bikes and play with toys in the yard far from Baby. Just make sure they wear their helmets.
On board. Board books are an old staple for a reason. Toddlers love “reading” them, and there is no risk of babies tearing the pages and eating them.
Cut the cord. Pull toys with strings more than 12 inches long can cause a strangulation hazard for babies. Focus on toys with short strings or that have hard plastic handles.
Bigger is better. Toys and parts should be larger than your child’s mouth to prevent choking. If possible, don't buy toys with tiny parts that can be removed, like buttons, coins, etc. If you are unsure if an item is large enough, try dropping it through a toilet paper roll. If it falls through, it’s not safe.
Battery vs. electric. Battery-operated toys prevent risk of electrocution and cord strangulation. The battery compartment should be secure enough so tiny fingers cannot open it.
Demagnetize. Magnets can pose a serious health risk if they’re swallowed. If they connect to each other in the intestines, serious problems, such as blockages, and possibly death can occur.
Stay grounded. Avoid toys that shoot objects into the air. They can cause serious eye injuries or present a choking hazard.
Stuffed to the max. Make sure stuffed toys are made well and are not filled with small pellets or stuffing that can cause choking or suffocation if swallowed. Parts should be sewn on tightly, and seams and edges should be secure. Remove loose ribbons or strings to avoid strangulation. Stuffed toys should also be machine washable, so germs and spills can easily be removed.
This tastes funny. You know Baby will stick everything in her mouth. Make sure the label or packaging says “nontoxic” to avoid toys with toxic materials that can cause poisoning.