While fun is always a consideration when buying toys for kids, toys can do more than entertain. The National Association for the Education of Young Children notes that toys should match the youngsters’ stages of development and their emerging abilities. When those matches are made, children’s imagination and coordination will develop.

Safety is another factor adults must take seriously when buying toys for children. Unfortunately, safety is not always foremost on the minds of toy shoppers. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission notes that more than 251,000 toy-related injuries were treated in American hospital emergency rooms in 2017. Thankfully, such injuries are almost always avoidable, especially when shoppers follow a handful of safety strategies.

Avoid toys with lots of pieces. Stanford Children’s Health notes that toddlers and small children tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking as a result. When buying toys for toddlers or small children, avoid toys with small parts that can be choking hazards.

Pay attention to age recommendations on packaging. Age guidelines are designed to ensure that kids play with toys suited for their age and abilities. Children are more likely to enjoy playing with toys designed for kids their age, and these toys are less likely than age-inappropriate toys to put youngsters’ safety in jeopardy.

Recognize that even stuffed animals can present safety hazards. Stuffed animals may not appear to pose any risks, but poorly made ones may have small parts that can easily come off. Poorly made stuffed animals may prove no match for the prying hands of curious youngsters, so make sure any small parts on stuffed animals, such as eyes and buttons, are securely fastened before making any purchases.

Teach kids how to use toys. When giving children advanced toys, take the time to show the youngsters how to use them. Such demonstrations can clear up any confusion about the toys, reducing kids’ risk for injury as a result. 

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