Play is a natural activity for every young child. Play provides many opportunities for children to learn and grow physically, mentally and socially. If play is the child's work then toys are the child's tools, and appropriate toys can help children do their work well.
Young children explore objects in their environment by "mouthing" them. Children can choke to death on such items. These items include toys (such as balloons and small balls), and household and food items (such as hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, coins, batteries, etc.). Although toys intended for young children should be free of small parts that could cause a choking incident, toys intended for older children may find their way into the hands of younger children. Be sure to keep all small items out of the hands of children who mouth objects, especially children under the age of three. Remind three and four year olds to keep such items out of their mouths. Instruct older children to keep those items out of reach of younger children.
A parent or friend choosing a toy for a child must consider several things. A good toy should be:
- safe for that child's age, well constructed, and durable;
- appealing and interesting to the child;
- suited tot he child's physical capabilities; and
- suited to the child's mental and social development.
This section is intended to serve as a handy reference guide and starting point for understanding and distinguishing children�s basic abilities and preferences as they grow. These abilities and preferences play an important role in attracting and motivating children to interact with toys. Developing physically, for example, changes the ways in which children are able to coordinate their gross-motor skills. Increased mobility opens up new ways to use toys. A higher level of
fine-motor skill permits greater manipulation of objects. Ultimately, such knowledge helps to identify and distinguish the characteristics of toys that are appealing to children at a given age. Although information of this sort is noted throughout the guidelines in relation to a specific subcategory of toys, this section summarizes typical play behaviors regardless of the toy used,
and identifies appropriate and appealing toy characteristics that are generally consistent among all subcategories of toys. With this information, you will be better able to make an age determination for a given toy, even if that toy is not specifically addressed within the