Dr. Toy's Tips on Selecting Children's Products
Before you purchase any children's product, examine it and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the product appropriate now? Does the product fit the child's age, skills, and abilities? Will it hold the child's interests?
- Is the toy or product well designed? Is it safe? Are there any potential hazards such as sharp edges, parts that can be swallowed, or loose ties? Is it nontoxic? Does it meet TIA and Consumer Product Safety Standards? How durable is it? Will it take rough treatment? Is there a guarantee on the product?
- Is the toy or product appealing? Is it something the child will enjoy using for a long time? Does it have long-lasting play value? Is it versatile?
- Does the toy offer an opportunity to stimulate creativity? The right products in arts, crafts, hobbies, language, reading, music, movement, and drama can help to expand the child's imagination, thinking, and comprehension.
- Does the toy match the package and the advertising? If the toy doesnít live up to expectations, it can be disappointing. Is the package clear about the appropriate age level?
- Will the product teach? Does it help build self-esteem, values, understanding, and cultural awareness? Does it offer practice in skills, eye-hand coordination, or fine and large motor skills? Does the product help teach communication skills? Does it expand understanding of the environment, the community, and the world? Does it teach or provide practice in computer skills?
- Is the toy affordable? Does the price match the value received?
- Will the product frustrate or challenge the child? Does the product offer an opportunity to think, learn something new, practice, or try something that will be beneficial? Or will it be too difficult for the child to use? Some products are perfect for playing a game or doing an activity, construction project, craft, or hobby as a family. Having fun together as a family is an important part of the child's play experiences.
- Will the toy help to nurture childhood? Can the child use the product by himself? Will it help her gain independent skills? Does the product help the child express emotions, experience care and concern for others, or practice positive social interaction? Is there any violence, sexism, or negative aspect to the product?
- Is the toy fun? Most importantly, will the child enjoy using the product? Will it make him or her laugh? Relax? Feel good? Play is, after all, a time to have fun. Learning is a lot easier and is more enduring if it's fun!
Think about these points:
- What does your child need now, and what is he or she ready to play with?
- The right toy/product at the right price for the right reason will help your child experience more joy, wonder, and learning.
- Give your child a chance to tell you about the toys and products on his or her wish list.
- Consider getting one of those fantasy products the child wants, even if you think itís silly. Childhood is fleeting. Even if we don't agree about their choices, they need to learn to be responsible for decisions they make as consumers. They are influenced a lot by what their friends are playing with and by what they see on television.
- Make a point of examining the toys and products included on Dr. Toy's extensive list of award-winning products. Each one has valuable activity, creativity, or education built in, and your child will benefit.