Tag Archives: gifts

Holiday Gift Tips: What You Need to Know About Toy Safety

Kid girl playing toys at home or kindergarten

In my house, holiday time means family, closeness, traditions, good food, and TONS of new toys! While these gifts are fun and exciting for children (and grown-ups!), it’s important to choose toys that are safe and developmentally appropriate. Read on for important tips for choosing the best—and safest—kids’ toys.

Avoid toys with small parts. Young children explore the world through their mouths—you’ve probably noticed that your baby almost immediately puts a new object in her mouth. While this is a normal part of child development, it’s important to ensure that any toys you bring into your home do not pose choking risks for your children. If you have older children, any of their toys with small parts should be placed in a storage bag and clearly labeled. Only allow your child to play with these toys when your little one isn’t around, and place all contents back in the bag and on a high shelf afterward he or she is done playing.

Avoid toys with long strings or cords. Children can accidentally wrap these around their necks, which can cause strangulation. Keep this in mind with mobiles in your child’s crib. Once your child has started to grab for things it is best to remove the mobile.

Buy toys in the United States. The U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors all toys made in the United States and ensures that they follow strict safety guidelines. All toys made in the United States or imported in after 1995 must comply with these standards.

Avoid toys with small magnets. Magnets used in children’s toys can be very powerful and extremely dangerous if swallowed. If two magnets are swallowed it can lead to intestinal obstruction, injury, and perforation.

Choose age-appropriate toys. Most toys will be labeled with the age that the toy is appropriate for. Follow these guidelines and be realistic about your child’s abilities. Ask family members to choose gifts that are within the age guidelines for your child.

Avoid button batteries. Avoid all toys that are controlled by lithium button battery devices. Ingestion of these batteries is very dangerous, as they can cause severe esophageal burns in as little as two hours. If you suspect your child has ingested a button battery, go to the emergency room immediately.

Don’t forget a helmet for riding toys. Scooters and bicycles can make great holiday presents, but it’s important that your child wears a helmet at ALL times when using them.

Sign up for toy recalls. You can sign up for toy recalls at Safe Kids Worldwide. This way you’ll know if your child’s favorite toy ends up on the recall list.

While toys should be fun, child safety is the number one priority. Play with your child and encourage creativity by using age-appropriate and safe toys. Enjoy this time with your child, and happy holidays!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Deena N. Blanchard, MD, MPH, is a clinical instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center and a partner at Premier Pediatrics.

‘Tis the Season for Shopping: Age-Appropriate Gift Guidelines for Kids

The holiday shopping season has arrived, and for those of us with little ones, it can be a challenge to choose a gift that’s both age-appropriate and helpful for development. We’ve all seen the recommended ages on packages for toys and games, but what are really the best toys for your kids?

The great news is that play is not only fun and universal for children of all ages, but it’s actually necessary for ideal development. Toys designed with a child’s current developmental level in mind will promote growth and mastery of new skills and ideas. Here are some guidelines to help you as you’re making your list (and checking it twice):

Little Ones:
0-6 months: Babies birth to six months are learning to control head movement, sit up, and take notice of the world around them. They enjoy toys that engage their senses of touch and developing vision, and help them master grasping—think shaking toys like rattles and something fun to look at during tummy time, like colorful, soft stuffed animals.

6-12 months: Babies on the move like soft toys that will probably end up in their mouths for some period of time (so no small parts!) and that interact with their senses. Bright colors, sounds, and varied textures are engaging. Try simple musical instruments, soft blocks, and push and pull toys.

1-3 years: Toddlers are starting to explore cause and effect relationships and develop more fine motor dexterity—and they do it all while on the move! They like toys with buttons that cause music, lights, and sounds; stacking and sorting toys; picture books; and things that mimic the everyday activities around them: kitchen equipment, a playhouse, or other play household items.

3-5 years: Preschoolers love to do things for themselves, explore outside, and create with imaginative play and materials. Puzzles, clay, safety scissors, paper, books, pretend play tools, and the like are great for development. They are also starting to learn more about how to share and take turns, so early games with turn taking and simple rules, like memory games and short board games, can be introduced.

Big Kids:
5-11 years: Elementary school age children are learning about nature, reading, playing collaboratively, and experiencing further cognitive development. Books that blend pictures and information are great for book lovers. Art supplies are popular for a wide range of kids, and games that encourage their interests and can be played with other children are a good bet. This could include sports equipment, creative arts, board games, music games, and building toys. Science and engineering toys are also a great option.

11-14 years: Middle schoolers are trying to fit in with friend groups and keep up with the demands of school and extracurricular activities. Ask them what they want and keep in mind the benefits of limiting screen time so that physical and outdoor play are not sacrificed.

As you make your shopping list, try to incorporate the interests of the child in your selections. Even very small children have preferences: some like animals and others like dress-up or things that move. The most important tip is to find a toy or game that will appeal to your child’s interests.

Happy holidays, and happy shopping!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Lauren Knickerbocker, Ph.D., is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. Dr. Knickerbocker specializes in treating selective mutism and anxiety in young children, ADHD and difficulties with organization and time management, disruptive behaviors, and parent management training. She is also the co-director of Early Childhood Service at NYU Langone’s Child Study Center.

Important Tips for Kids’ Birthday Party Etiquette

Little boy giving a little girl a gift.In light of a recent UK scandal where a five-year-old child received an invoice for not attending a friend’s birthday party, the topic of kids’ birthday party etiquette seems to be a very important—yet sometimes controversial—topic. People have different views on what’s right and what’s wrong, from RSVPing to a party to sending a gift. To help shed some light on some important dos and don’ts, here are a few of our tips for good birthday party etiquette!

RSVP on time (and in a timely fashion). When we say a timely fashion, we not only mean to send your reply by the RSVP date, but also continue to be timely, and let the host know if your child’s status changes. In the UK scandal/situation, the parent had RSVP’d that her child would attend, and then the child was a no-show (hence the invoice after the fact). If your child wakes up with a fever the morning of the party, let the host know that he or she can’t make it—even if it’s just hours before the party starts. Your updated RSVP is better late than not at all.

To send a gift or not send a gift? This is an often-brought-up question—if your child is invited to, but can’t attend a classmate’s birthday party, should you still send a gift? The easiest answer is whatever you are most comfortable with. We are firm in that if the birthday child is a good friend of your child—or if the parent is a good friend of yours—the answer is definitely send something. But when you get into the gray area of your child being friendly but not really friends, just classmates, a gift is not absolutely necessary.

Siblings not allowed (unless they’re invited). Basically, if only one of your children is invited to a birthday party, it’s not ok to bring your other child to sit on the sidelines—that is, unless you have properly asked permission (we’ll discuss in a minute). We know it can be hard to find childcare, and it’s not fun for parents to split up for different weekend activities, but many birthday parties charge per child, so it’s not fair to add an uninvited guest to the bill. On the topic of asking if you can bring a sibling, it’s only ok to ask if you are good enough friends with the parents AND if you truly can’t find alternate plans for your other child. Otherwise it’s just plain nervy.

How many kids should make the birthday list? Kids’ birthday parties can be pretty expensive, so it’s not always feasible to invite every member in a child’s gymnastics lesson, twos program, or kindergarten class. The answer for this one is, it depends. If you’re child is turning one and is in a class every week, you don’t have to invite everyone—at this age it’s more about parental relationships than child friendships. However, if your child’s elementary school has a policy that if you invite one, you invite them all, then you have your answer. Even if this policy doesn’t exist, if your child is in a small, tight-knit class, it’s hard to exclude just a few kids. Luckily there are birthday parties available for every budget, so you should be able to find a party that won’t break the bank.