Kids opening Christmas gifts with family

6 tips to help you choose holiday toys

Dr. Jaime Stelzer is a pediatrician at Community Physician Network. To learn more about Dr. Stelzer, or to request an appointment, visit her physician profile.

The holiday season is upon us and many parents are faced with the task of choosing safe, fun and budget-friendly gifts for their children.

As I walk down toy aisles at retail stores, I am completely overwhelmed by the variety of toys on the shelves. Not to mention, the amount of them being marketed as a tool to improve a child’s intelligence. In hopes of relieving some of the stress and anxiety of holiday shopping, here are some of my tips: 

Look for recall information.
With any toy, car seat, piece of furniture, etc., remember to look for recent recalls on the product - Safe Kids Worldwide and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are great resources.  

Buy toys that are age appropriate.
Find the recommended age range on the packaging of a toy before you buy it. It is a good idea to stay within the listed age range for toys, as children under those ages really should not be allowed to play with that toy.

You don't need a big budget. 
Look around the house before heading to the store, the best gifts may already be at home.

Consider "figure it out" toys.
When shopping for children under age one, look for things that will encourage them to “figure it out.” Soft fabric rattles, toys with mirrors and toys that light up and/or make noises encourage them to use their brain.

Get creative.
Children in preschool or grade school will enjoy toys that foster their creative minds. Consider buying materials to build a fort, a tent for a pretend sleepover, or dress up clothes.

  • Crayons and coloring books are great gifts for these ages too. You can even give them items to create their own story book. 
  • Instruments that allow them to make music, while loud for parents, are also a ton of fun for children.

Put safety first.
As children get older and are walking, look for toys that will encourage exercise in a safe manner. Be aware of stairs in your home, and always be sure kids who are riding scooters, skateboards or bikes wear a helmet.

For more healthy toy recommendations, contact your Community Health Network pediatrician or family medicine physician.

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