The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has some great shopping tips, tips for toy maintenance and storage, and appropriate age guidelines for toys at this web site.
Here are the highlights I compiled from my own experience:
- Use caution with button-battery operated toys. It’s like the battery makers measured a toddler’s esophagus and decided “This is exactly how big the battery should be.” Make sure the batteries are secured and cannot be easily removed by a child.
- Choose age-appropriate toys. We all think our child is more advanced and therefore needs the older-kid toys to challenge their little 18-month-old brain. But just because your baby genius can handle the stimulation of that toy doesn’t mean they still won’t try to eat the tiny parts.
- No sharp edges. No lead paint. This rule actually applies to a few adults on my list this year too.
- Toys with pull-cords or electrical cords to plug into the wall are basically baby nooses. These toys require constant supervision.
- Promptly dispose of all boxes, baggies, tiny little twisty ties and all the other annoying wrapping that encloses the toys. They appear to be yummy treats to crawlers and toddlers. Or better yet, open and assemble all toys before wrapping them for your kid. It saves time on Christmas morning anyway.