What Toys for Kids You Should Avoid in Stores?

by NDFAuthors

  • Dec 20, 2013

Christmas is almost here and you may still be in need of a toy for your child.  

We recently told you the best toys to give your little one (that are safe and will stimulate your child’s development). Now it is time to make yourself aware of the worst toys for your children.

The worst gift you can give

A toy can be bad in a number of ways. It could be inappropriate for the age of the child (for example, small parts on a toy would not be safe for an infant, who could choke) or it could be inappropriate no matter the age of the child (for example, a toy gun). Here are some of the worst types of toys you could give your child:

  • Toys that do it all… already: Imagination is key for a child’s creative development. Dolls or stuffed animals that talk or sing when a child presses a button take the imagination out of the play situation and are especially unsuitable for children over the age of 18 months. “When a toy is too specific, it’s limiting and it denies the child the ability to use her imagination,” says Vicki Panaccione, PhD, a child psychologist and founder of the Better Parenting Institute.1
  • Video games: We live in an electronic age and are lucky enough that some manufacturers have been able to come up with video games that are suitable for a child’s development. But this is not the case for most. Research has suggested that electronic toys pose several possible dangers for a child’s health and development, including hearing loss (from loud games), weight gain (from being inactive), and language and developmental delays.2 A study from Temple University showed that toys that do not require a child to take any action except watch promote a passive learning style, which can interfere with learning to think independently. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids under age 2 should not watch TV or play computer games at all and kids over age 2 should have their “screen time” limited to 1-2 hours per day. So if you want your gift to go a long way, a video game is not the gift for your child.

toy gun

  • Toy Guns: The most inappropriate gift for a child is a toy gun. With the school shootings and gun violence in our society, the worst idea is for a child to receive a gun as a gift and think it is acceptable. It is important children can recognize the violence with guns in television shows and movies is fake and not imagine themselves doing the same actions with a toy gun.

How to recognize a toy is unsuitable for children

When you are shopping for a toy for your child, unsafe or unsuitable toys often have the following characteristics:3

  • Do not meet basic safety checks (toys should not chip or emit colors) and do not indicate “suitable for children.”
  • Promote violence, the practice of unhealthy habits, and discrimination of because of race, culture, gender, etc.
  • Are impractical and useless.
  • Are inadequate for the intended child and do not respond to their interests, age or tastes.

Be aware of dangerous toys

In 2010, an estimated 181,500 children were treated in an emergency room for a toy-related injury. Almost half of those injured were children age 4 and under.4

tiny choking hazardsSome toys can be a choking hazard or can cause serious eye injuries and vision loss. Dr. Maurice Zadeh, president of the Georgia Optometric Association, says parents should be aware of these warnings:5

  • Avoid toys with sharp or rigid points.
  • Keep toys meant for older children away from younger children.
  • Avoid flying toys and projectile-firing toys

Your children will likely be gifted numerous toys this time of year. If they are lucky enough to receive ones that are good for their development, it is still important to only keep a few out at one time. Children given too many toys at one time have a hard time focusing on any one of them completely. Rotate the toys in and out of a toy box or your child’s room and let them fully explore one toy before introducing another.

Staying away from unsafe and inappropriate toys will help your child have a merrier Christmas (and a better future!).


Photo credit: Kalexanderson / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA