We all want to be the one to find a gift that makes the holidays unforgettable for that special child in our lives. Whether you're a parent, aunt, neighbor or godparent, don't let your quest for holiday magic steer you towards a purchase that might be unsafe or inappropriate.
With the biggest shopping weekend of the year right around the corner, it's not a bad idea to know what to look for as you shop for gifts.
Here are 7 tips for buying great gifts for the younger set:
- Select age-appropriate toys: Be sure to buy gifts that are safe and appropriate for the child's age, ability, and development level. The National Association for the Education of Young Children of has a guide to toys by "age and stage".
- Use common sense: Don't buy toys or gifts with sharp edges, tiny pieces, or moving parts, especially for very young children. If it looks poorly made or flimsy, put it back. Additionally, never give gifts that include ropes, cords or heating elements.
- Check the label: Toys that have been screened for safety will have an American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) label, which means the item meets current U.S. safety standards. On art supplies, look for the ASTM label to ensure that the product has been checked for toxicity and includes all important safety warnings.
- Avoid lead: Antique toys or toys that have been imported from other countries may contain harmful lead compounds. Although there are do-it-yourself kits that will allow you to test toys for lead at home, these types of screenings are not always accurate. The best way to avoid exposing your child to lead is to purchase newer toys (1978 or later) that were made in the U.S.
- Sound check: Most toys do not have noise-level restrictions, so be sure to check the volume of any toys or electronic devices that have sound functions. Not only can loud noise be upsetting to both children and parents; it can also permanently damage a young child's hearing.
- Give safety equipment: If you're gifting a bike or a skateboard, add a helmet as part of the package. Similarly, include corresponding safety gear when giving any type of sports equipment.
- When the big day arrives: Be sure to monitor children as they unwrap gifts and begin to try them out. Clear away ribbon and wrapping paper quickly to avoid choking or fire hazards. Remove tags and stickers, read all instructions and assemble toys properly before allowing children to play freely.
Follow these tips for a safe and happy gift giving season!