Holidays, Parenting, Stages

Age-based Guidelines for Buying Toys and Gifts

The holiday season involves making holiday gift lists and checking them twice, or even more frequently to ensure that gift-givers find the best fit for recipients. While age may only be a number in certain instances, when it comes to gifting, age should be a consideration — particularly when kids are involved.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that an estimated 86,000 children treated for toy-related injuries each year are younger than five. Toy-related injuries are preventable, and prevention often comes down to choosing age-appropriate toys for kids.

Toys can be choking hazards when small toys, or those with small pieces, are given to children who are too young to use them safely. Kids are curious and often put items in their mouths. Choking is the fourth-leading cause of unintentional death in children under age five, indicates The Emergency Center. Falls, eye injuries, drowning, and motor accidents are leading causes of gift-related injuries. Here’s how to select age-appropriate gifts.

• Read the packaging carefully. Most toys and other children’s products will come with an age range recommendation. While some kids may be mature beyond their years, it’s best to choose gifts that fall within the recommended range. This is particularly the case for infants, toddlers, and any child under the age of five.

• Avoid fad gifts. Children often want the latest and greatest gadgets and toys for gifts even if they are not the smartest choices for their ages. Resist the urge to buy something just to be the “cool parent or grandparent,” especially if it isn’t age-appropriate. Mermaid tails became popular in recent years, and likely will see increased presence thanks to the release of a popular live-action mermaid movie. However, they limit movement and can make swimming more difficult, potentially increasing risk of drowning.

• Provide safety gear. As children age, they may be more interested in gifts that appeal to hobbies and abilities. Scooters, bicycles, skates, and other items are popular among older children. These gifts should only be purchased for those with proven ability, and even then, accompanied with the appropriate safety gear. This can include helmets, knee pads and eye protection.

• Consider waiting before gifting certain electronics. Although children may be able to use devices safely, there are many who advocate for waiting to give young children smartphones and tablets due to the consequences of excessive screen time. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry says children ages two to five should limit non-educational screen time to about one hour per weekday and three hours on weekend days. Children should be encouraged to pursue healthy habits that limit use of screens, so gift-givers can look for gifts that help to this end.

Age-appropriate gifts ensure safety for the youngest people on holiday gift lists.

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