Toy Safety

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 food items (such as hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, coins, batteries, etc.).  Although toys intended for older children should be free of small parts that could cause choking incident, toys intended for older children may find their way into hands of younger children.  Reminder:  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 these 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 to the child's physical capabilities; and

  • suited to the child's mental and social development.

This information provides some guidelines to help in selecting toys that meet these criteria.   The suggestions are based on three sources:
(1) review of reference works on child development; (2) observations of children at play; and (3) product analyses of toys to determine which characteristics are most critical in defining the appropriate ages of the intended users.

ABILITIES AND INTERESTS are followed by categorized TOY LISTS for each of five age groups.
The five age groups are:

TOY LIST sections give toy suggestions in six major categories with subcategories under each to help in finding a particular toy type. They do suggest general toy types suitable for that age group. This information does not judge the play value or benefits of specific toys.  For example, suitable types of projectile toys are described in the TOY LISTS, although the potential safety hazards of these toys lead many in the field to recommend against them.
ALL TOYS (a general category orienting the consumer to special features of toys that are relevant to the particular age group).
TOY SAFETY. Major areas of consideration for all toys are safety and durability.   Toys should be constructed to withstand the uses and abuses of children in the age range for which the toy is appropriate.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has safety regulations for certain toys. Manufactures must design and manufacture their products to meet these regulations so that hazardous products are not sold.  In addition, many toy manufacturers also adhere to the toy industry's voluntary safety standards.

What the Government Does:
Mandatory Toy Safety Regulations
For All Ages

  • No shock or thermal hazards in electrical toys.
  • Amount of lead in toy paint severely limited.
  • No toxic materials in or on toys.
  • Art materials used by children under 12 should be non-hazardous and indicate they conform with ASTM D-4236.

Under Age 3

  • Unbreakable - will withstand use and abuse.
  • No small parts or pieces which could become lodged in the throat.
  • Infant rattles large enough not to become lodged in child's throat and constructed so as not to separate into small pieces.

Under Age 8

  • No electrically operated toys with heating elements.
  • No sharp points on toys.
  • No sharp edges on toys.

CPSC also can remove from the marketplace toys presenting hazards not covered by the regulations.

What the Industry Does:
Voluntary Standard for Toy Safety

  • Puts age and safety labels on toys.

  • Puts warning labels on crib gyms advising that they be removed from the crib when babies can push up on hands and knees (to prevent strangling).

  • Makes squeeze toys and teethers large enough not to become lodged in an infant's throat.

  • Assures that the lid of a toy chest will stay open in any position to which it is raised and not fall unexpectedly on a child.

  • Limits string length on crib and play pen toys to reduce the risk of strangulation.

What a Parent Can Do:
Reduce Choking Risk

  • Look for and read age and safety labels.   Any toy that is age labeled for children three years and older should be kept away from children under the age of three - such toy may have small parts and could cause choking if placed in the mouth.

  • Keep uninflated balloons and broken balloon pieces away from children.

  • Rounded and oval objects (e.g., balls, marbles, etc.) that fit easily into a child's mouth may be difficult to remove from a throat and could cause choking.

Reduce Strangulation Risk

  • Crib toys with strings, cords, ribbons, etc. (used to hang toys across a crib or to the side of a crib) present a strangulation risk when babies are just starting to push up on hands and knees, usually about 5 months of age. REMOVE ALL CRIB TOYS WHICH ARE STRUNG ACROSS CRIB OR PLAYPEN AREA WHEN BABIES BEGIN TO PUSH UP ON HANDS AND KNEES OR ARE 5 MONTHS OF AGE, WHICHEVER OCCURS FIRST.

General Toy Safety:

  • Keep toys intended for older children away from younger children - such toys may injure young children.

  • Check all toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards - damaged or dangerous toys should be repaired or thrown away immediately.

  • Store toys safely - teach children to put toys away so they are not tripping hazards; check toy boxes and shelves for safety.

For further information write to the:
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Washington, D.C. 20207

Or call the toll-free hotline:
To report a toy related complaint, 1-800-638-CPSC


Young Infants 0 to 6 Months

ALL TOYS

  • Toys for this age are primarily for: looking, listening, sucking, or fingering.

  • Infants 0 - 2 months enjoy seeing and hearing interesting things.

  • Infants 2 - 6 months show growing interest in touching, holding, batting, turning, shaking, kicking, mouthing and tasting objects.

  • Infants like to see:
    - bright primary colors.
    - high contrast.
    - simple designs.
    - clear lines and features.
    - human face features (esp. eyes).
    - bull's eye pattern.

  • Infants enjoy watching hanging objects or "mobiles" that move by wind, wind-up action, or infant's own activity.

  • Toys for watching should be suspended only 8 - 14 inches (200 - 360mm) from the infant's eyes and angled toward his/her eyes, then moved up out of reach when he/she can touch them.

  • Toys for watching are more appealing if they move and make noise (but movement should be slow and noise not too loud or sudden).

  • Infants enjoy variety.

  • Infants enjoy producing effects on toys by their own activity.

  • Toys for holding should be light and easy to grasp.

  • Mouthable toys should have all safety features recommended for infants:
    - no sharp points or edges.
    - no small parts to be lodged in throat, ears, nose.
    - no electrical parts.
    - nontoxic materials.
    - no glass or brittle plastic.
    - no parts to entrap fingers, toes, hands.
    - no long strings.

ACTIVE PLAY

  • Push and Pull Toys
    not suited to age group

  • Ride-On Toys
    not suited to age group

  • Outdoor or Gym Equipment
    infant swings (with adult supervision).

  • Sports Equipment
    from about 6-8 weeks:
    - clutch balls.
    - texture balls.
    - soft squeeze balls.

  • All balls given to this age group should be at least 1-3/4 inches (44mm) in diameter; however, if any object appears to fit easily in the child's mouth, keep it away from the child).

MANIPULATIVE PLAY

  • Construction Toys
    from about 4 months:
    - soft blocks.
  • Puzzles
    not suited to age group
  • Pattern Making Toys
    not suited to age group
  • Manipulative Toys
    from about 6-8 weeks:
    - simple rattles.
    - teethers.
    - light, sturdy cloth toys.
    - squeeze toys.
    - toys suspended above or to the side of infant for batting and grasping.
    from about 4 months:
    - disks, keys on ring.
    - interlocking plastic rings.
    - small hand-held manipulables.
    - crib gyms (children who can push up on hands and knees can strangle on crib gyms - be sure to remove     crib gym from crib or playpen at this time).

  • Dressing, Lacing, Stinging Toys
    not suited to age group

  • Sand and Water Play Toys.
    not suited to age group

MAKE-BELIEVE PLAY

  • Dolls
    soft baby dolls, soft-bodied dolls, or rag dolls - all with molded (not loose) hair.
  • Stuffed Toys
    - small plush animals.
    -music box animals (operated and monitored for safety by adults).
    - grab-on soft toys.
  • Puppets
    - soft hand puppets (held and moved by adults).
  • Role-Play Materials
    - mirrors (large, unbreakable) fastened to crib, playpen or wall (peak interest in mirrors 4 - 6 months).
  • Play Scenes (Including Small Figures)
    not suited to age group
  • Transportation Toys
    simple push cars (one-piece).
  • Projectile Toys
    not suited to age group

CREATIVE PLAY (arts, crafts, music)

  • Musical Instruments
    not suited to age group
  • Art and Craft Materials
    not suited to age group
  • Audio-Visual Equipment (Adult Operated)
    - records, tapes, or CDs (gentle regular rhythms, lullabies).
    - music boxes

LEARNING PLAY

  • Games
    not suited to age group
  • Specific Skill Development Toys
    not suited to age group
  • Books
    - may enjoy listening to a story being read.

Young Infants 7 to 12 Months

ALL TOYS

  • Infants 7-9 months interested in longer and more extensive exploration of toys.  Infants of this age like to:
    - bang
    - insert
    - poke
    - twist
    - squeeze
    - drop
    - shake
    - bite
    - throw
    - open and shut
    - empty and fill
  • Infants 10-12 months show beginning interest in object mastery and like many objects to explore.  Infants of this age like:
    - stacking.
    - putting in and taking out.
    - fitting one object into another.
    - opening and closing.
    - pressing levers.
    - turning things (not unscrewing yet).
    - push balls and cars.
  • Generally, infants in this age range are interested in:
    - operating simple mechanisms.
    - containers and the container/contained relationship.
    - appearing and disappearing objects.
  • As at earlier ages infants enjoy producing effects by their own actions.
    - Toys for infants:
       - safe for mouthing.
       - non-toxic materials.
       - no sharp points or edges.
       - nonbreakable; no glass or brittle plastic.
       - no small parts to be lodged in throat, ears, nose.
       - no parts to entrap fingers, toes, hand.
       - no long strings.

ACTIVE PLAY

  • Push and Pull Toys
    - push toys without rods (simple cars, animals on wheels or rollers).
  • Ride-On Toys
    not suited to age group
  • Outdoor and Gym Equipment
    - infant swings (with adult supervision).
    - soft low climbing platform for crawlers.
  • Sports Equipment
    - transparent balls
    - chime balls
    - flutter balls
    - action balls
  • All balls given to this age group should be at least 1-3/4 inches (44mm) in diameter; however, if any object appears to fit easily in the child's mouth, keep it away from the child).

MANIPULATIVE PLAY

  • Construction Toys
    - soft blocks.
    - rubber blocks.
    - rounded wood blocks.
  • Puzzles
    - from about 10 months:
       - brightly colored, lightweight crib and playpen puzzles (2-3) pieces.
  • Pattern-Making Toys
    not suited to age group
  • Manipulative Toys
    - teethers.
    - light sturdy cloth toys.
    - toys on suction cups.
    - small, hand-held manipulables.
    - disks/keys on rings.
    - squeeze/squeak toys.
    - roly-poly toys.
    - activity boxes and cubes.
    - pop-up boxes (easy operation).
    - containers with object to empty and fill.
    - large rubber or plastic pop beads.
    - simple nesting cups.
    - stacking ring cones (few rings and safe stick).
    - graspable (unbreakable) mirror toys which can be held and played with.
  • Children lose interest in crib gyms and toys suspended above when he/she can sit up and move about (crib gyms can create a strangulation hazard; stop using when child can push up on hands and knees at about 5 months of age).
  • Dressing, Lacing, Stinging Toys
    not suited to age group
  • Sand and Water Play Toys.
    - activity boxes for bath.
    - simple floating toys.

CREATIVE PLAY (arts, crafts, music)

  • Musical Instruments
    rubber or wood blocks that rattle or tinkle.
  • Art and Craft Materials
    from about 12 months
       - large paper.
       - large crayons for scribbling.
  • Audio-Visual Equipment (Adult Operated)
    - records, tapes, or CDs (simple songs, lullabies, music with simple rhythms).
    - music boxes

MAKE-BELIEVE PLAY

  • Dolls
    soft baby dolls, soft-bodied dolls, or rag dolls - all with molded (not loose) hair.
  • Stuffed Toys
    - small plush animals.
    - music box animals (operated and monitored for safety by adults).
    - grab-on soft toys.
    - big soft toys for hugging and roughhousing.
  • Puppets
    - soft hand puppets - child may handle but must be operated by adults.
  • Role-Play Materials
    - low mounted mirrors (large, unbreakable) to see self sit, creep, crawl, etc.
  • Play Scenes (Including Small Figures)
    not suited to age group
  • Transportation Toys
    simple push cars (one-piece).
  • Projectile Toys
    not suited to age group

LEARNING PLAY

  • Games
    not suited to age group
  • Specific Skill Development Toys
    not suited to age group
  • Books
    - cloth books.
    - plastic books.
    - small cardboard books.
    Note: Some children enjoy "lap reading" (being read to) from this age onward.  When adult-held, paper picture books are appropriate.

Young Toddlers (1 Year Olds)

ALL TOYS

  • Children prefer action toys, toys that produce movement or sounds by child's own effort:
    - toys need not be highly detailed but should be realistic looking.
    - toys should be lightweight for easy lifting, carrying.
    - bright colors preferred.
  • In play, child always on the move - large muscle activities such as running, climbing dominate over small muscle activities such as exploring objects, constructing.
  • Child beginning to combine, put together objects.
  • Beginning of imitative play.
  • Toys should meet safety regulations for age:
    - sturdy, unbreakable; not likely to break into small pieces and strong enough for child to stand on or in.
    - non-toxic materials.
    - no sharp or points or edges.
    - too large to be lodged in windpipe, ears, nostrils.
    - no detachable small parts.
    - no parts that could pinch or entrap fingers, toes, hair.
    - not put together with easily exposed straight pins, sharp wires, nails.
    - no electrical parts, unless supervised by adult.

ACTIVE PLAY

  • Push and Pull Toys
    - push toys with rods (rods with large handles on ends).
    - toys to push on floor - simple, sturdy, with large wheels.
    - special noise and action effects.
    - for steady walkers, pull toys on strings (broad-based to tip less easily).
  • From about 1 1/2 years old:
    - simple doll carriages.
    - wagons - low, open, big enough for child to get in.
    - small rocking horses - confined rocking arc, stout handles rather than reins, knee height on child.
    - push/pull toys filled with multiple objects.
  • Ride-On Toys
    - ride-ons propelled by pushing with feet - no pedals.
    - stable ride-ons - 4 or more wheels, spaced wide apart, child's feet flat on floor when seated.
    - ride-ons with storage bins.
    - ride-ons that make noise, look like animals.
  • Outdoor and Gym Equipment
    - all gym equipment needs adult supervision.
    - low, soft climbing platforms.
    - tunnels for crawling.
    - swings (pushed by adult) - seats curved by body shaped of energy-absorbing material with restraining strap.
    from about 1 1/2:
    - simple, low climbing structures.
    - low slides with handrails.
    - outdoor play equipment with stationary rather than moving parts.
  • Sports Equipment
    - soft lightweight balls, especially with interesting visual effects, noises, unpredictable movement.
    - chime balls, flutter balls.
    - large balls (easier for child to maneuver).
  • All balls given to this age group should be at least 1-3/4 inches (44mm) in diameter; however, if any object appears to fit easily in the child's mouth, keep it away from the child).

MANIPULATIVE PLAY

  • Construction Toys
    - small lightweight stacking blocks (15-25 pieces).
    - before 1 1/2, most interlocking mechanisms are too difficult.
    - from about 1 1/2
       - solid wooden unit blocks (20-40).
       - large, hallow building blocks.
       - large plastic bricks (2-4 inches or 50-100mm) to press together.
  • Puzzles
    - simple pre-puzzles or form boards - 2-3 pieces, each piece a familiar shape.
    from about 1 1/2:
    - 3-5 pieces puzzles with knobs easier to use (knobs firmly attached).
  • Pattern Making Toys
    - peg board with a few large pegs.
  • Manipulative Toys
    - activity boxes attached to crib or playpen or freestanding - simple action mechanisms (doors, lids, switches).
    - hidden object toys.
    - simple pop-up toys operated by pushing a button or knob.
    - nesting cups - round shape, few pieces.
    - simple stacking toys - few pieces, no order necessary.
    - shape sorters - a few common shapes.
  • from around 1 1/2.
    - fit-together toys of about 5 pieces.
    - activity boxes with more complex action mechanisms- turning knob or dial, turning simple key.
    - pounding/hammering toys.
    - nesting toys - square or other shapes.
    - stacking toys of 4-5 pieces.
    - simple number/counting boards (1-5) with large pegs.
    - jack-in-the-box toys (adult supervision if toys spring back quickly).
    - toys with screwing action (child can usually manage only 1 turn).
  • simple nesting cups.
  • stacking ring cones (few rings and safe stick).
  • graspable (unbreakable) mirror toys which can be held and played with.
  • loses interest in crib gyms and toys suspended above when can sit up and move about (crib gyms can create a strangulation hazard; stop using when child can push up on hands and knees at about 5 months).
  • Dressing, Lacing, Stinging Toys
    - large colored beads (fewer than 10).
    from around 1 1/2:
    - lacing cubes or board with thick, blunt spindle.
  • Sand and Water Play Toys.
    - simple floating toys - 1-2 pieces, easy to grasp in one hand.
    - sponges; small shovel and pail.
    from around 1 1/2 :
    - nesting tub toys.
    - bathtub activity centers.
    - funnels, colanders.
    - small sandbox tools (rake should have blunt teeth).

MAKE-BELIEVE PLAY

  • Dolls
    - soft-bodied or all-rubber baby dolls.
    - simple dolls with no hair, moving eyes, or movable limbs.
    - dolls to fit easily in child's arms, or small dolls (5-6 inches).
    - simple accessories for caretaking - bottle, blanket.
    - simple doll clothes, need not be detachable.
    from around1 1/2:
    - large peg people.
  • Stuffed Toys
    - very soft, lightweight, easy to hold.
    - slender limbs on toys for easy grasp.
    - for safety reasons no whiskers, buttons, bows or bells.
  • Puppets
    - puppets operated by adult.
  • Role-Play Materials
    - toy telephone; full length mirror.
    - simple housekeeping equipment.
    - simple doll equipment - carriage, bed.
    - from around 1 1/2:
       - simple dress-ups; hats, scarves, ties, shoes, jewelry.
       - role-play toys that can be pushed and make noise -  (TOY) mower, vacuum
       - child-sized equipment - oven, fridge, sink, table, chairs.
  • Play Scenes (Including Small Figures)
    All figurines should be at least 1 3/4 inches (44mm) in diameter: however if any object appears to fit easily in the child's mouth keep it away from child.)
    before 1 1/2
       - child may enjoy handling, carrying around figures.
    from around 1 1/2:
       - familiar, realistic scenes - farm, airport, garage - not overly detailed pieces (4-6 pieces)
       - prefer scenes with moving parts or that make noise.
  • Transportation Toys
    - lightweight vehicles of a size for easy handling (not too small) and with secure wheels.
    - push or pull cars and trains.
    - first train- 1-2 cars, no tracks, simple or no coupling system.
    - from around 1 1/2:
       - more detailed vehicles - doors, hoods that open.
       - trains with simple coupling system - large hooks, magnets.
  • Projectile Toys
    not suited to age group

CREATIVE PLAY (arts, crafts, music)

  • Musical Instruments
    rhythm instruments operated by shaking - enclosed bells, rattles.
    - from around 1 1/2:
       - rhythm instruments, operated by banging - cymbals, drums, xylophones.
  • Art and Craft Materials
    - large crayons.
    - sturdy, large-size paper.
  • Audio-Visual Equipment (Adult Operated)
    - records, tapes, or CDs (gentle regular rhythms, lullabies).
    - hand-cranked music box, worked by child if crank is large and easy to turn.

LEARNING PLAY

  • Games
    not suited to age group
  • Specific Skill Development Toys
    not suited to age group
  • Books and 'Peek-a-Boo' Books
    - sturdy cloth, plastic, cardboard books with few pages.
    - picture books, nursery rhymes, stories with repetition.
    - books to be held and read by adult can be more fragile, with paper pages.
    - from around 1 1/2:
       - touch-me or tactile books.

Older Toddlers (2 Year Olds)

ALL TOYS

  • Beginning of cooperative, social play.
  • Increasing interest in pretend play.
  • Love of physical, active play.
  • Child prefers action toys, toys that produce movement or sounds by child's own efforts.
  • More realism preferred:
    - begins to pay attention to qualities of objects.
    - prefers toys with working parts.
  • Toys should be lightweight enough for easy lifting, carrying.
  • Bright colors preferred.
  • Toys should meet safety regulations for age:
    - sturdy, unbreakable; not likely to break into small pieces and strong enough for child to stand on or in.
    - non-toxic materials.
    - no sharp or points or edges.
    - too large to be lodged in windpipe, ears, nostrils.
    - no detachable small parts.
    - no parts that could pinch or entrap fingers, toes, hair.
    - not put together with easily exposed straight pins, sharp wires, nails.
    - no electrical parts, unless supervised by adult.

ACTIVE PLAY

  • Push and Pull Toys
    - pull toys with strings.
    - doll carriages.
    - wagons.
    - small light wheelbarrow.
    - interest in push toys that look like adult equipment- lawnmower, vacuum, shopping cart.
  • Ride-On Toys
    - interest in realistic-looking ride-ons- tractors, motorcycles.
    - ride-ons with storage trays or bins.
    - ride-ons propelled by bouncing up and down.
    - when children begin to pedal (around 1 1/2 - 3) small tricycle.
  • Outdoor or Gym Equipment
    - all gym equipment needs adult supervision.
    - tunnels.
    - climbing structures and slides.
    - stationary rather than moving outdoor equipment.
    - wings with curved, soft seats and restraining straps.
  • Sports Equipment
    - sleds sized to child (shorter length than child's height).
    - spinning seat.
    - pool toys (tubes, mats) with adult supervision.
    - balls of all sizes, but especially large balls. (All balls given to this age group should be at least 1 3/4 (44mm)    in diameter; however, if any object appears to fit easily in the child's mouth, keep it away from the child.

MANIPULATIVE PLAY

  • Construction Toys
    - solid wooden unit blocks.
    - large, hollow building blocks (cardboard, wood, plastic).
    - large, plastic bricks (2-4 inches or 50-100 mm) to be pressed together.
    - plastic interlocking rings; large plastic nuts and bolts.
  • Puzzles
    - fit-in puzzle:
       - 2 to 2 1/2 years, 4-5 pieces.
       - 2 1/2 years - 3, 6-12 pieces.
    - puzzles with knobs easier (knobs should be firmly attached).
  • Pattern Making Toys
    - peg boards with large pegs.
    - color cubes.
    - magnetic boards with shapes, animals, people.
    - color forms (from around 2 1/2).
  • Manipulative Toys
    - fit together toys of 5-10 pieces.
    - nesting toys with multiple pieces, including barrel toys that require screwing motion.
    - number/counting boards with large pegs.
    - shape sorters with common shapes.
    - pounding/hammering toys.
    - smelling jars.
    - color/picture dominoes.
    - simple lotto matching games based on color, pictures.
  • Dressing, Lacing, Stinging Toys
    - large colored beads. (All beads given to this age group should be at least 1-3/4 inches (44mm) in diameter, however if any object appears to fit easily in the child's mouth, keep it away from the child.)
    - lacing card or wooden shoe for lacing.
    - dressing books and dolls.
    - frames, cubes for lacing, buttoning, snapping, hooking.
  • Sand and Water Play Toys.
    - bathtub activity centers.
    - nesting tub toys.
    - tub toys with removable figures, accessories.
    - linking tub toys.
    - small boats (no metal parts).
    - small and large sandbox tools (with blunt edges).
    - water/sand mills.
    - sprinklers.

MAKE-BELIEVE PLAY

  • Dolls
    - soft-bodied and rubber baby dolls.
    - more realistic dolls with hair and moving eyes.
    - dolls to fit in child's arms; also small, realistic dolls.
    - talking dolls operated by pulling string.
    - large peg dolls.
    - doll accessories - simple and sturdy.
    - caretaking accessories - bottle, blanket.
    - simple removable garments (hook and loop, large snap fasteners).
  • Stuffed Toys
    - soft, pliable animals.
    - mother and baby combinations.
    - preference for realistic animals, replicas of familiar characters.
    - toys with music box inside.
  • Puppets
    - soft hand puppets (hand-and-arm puppets too large).
    - lightweight, sized to fit child's hand.
    - puppets doubling as stuffed toys.
    - puppets doubling as stuffed toys.
    - puppets representing familiar characters.
  • Role-Play Materials
    - dress-ups and costumes.
    - equipment should be realistic-looking.
    - child-sized equipment - stove, cooking board, refrigerator.
    - all housekeeping equipment - cleaning sets, pots and pans, bath and laundry.
    - toys that can be pushed - vacuum, lawnmower, shopping cart.
    - full-length mirror.
  • Play Scenes (Including Small Figures)
    - familiar, realistic-looking scenes - farm, garage, airport.
    - scenes with multiple pieces but not highly detailed.
    - preference for moving parts, parts that make noise.
    - interior of scenes easily accessible.
    - vehicle sets with figures.
  • Transportation Toys
    - small, realistic cars (not metal).
    - vehicles with moving parts.
    - large trucks (metal too heavy) - moving parts, parts operated by large lever (with knob on end).
    - cars, trucks with removable figures, accessories.
    - small trains with simple coupling mechanism - no tracks.
  • Projectile Toys
    not suited to age group

CREATIVE PLAY (arts, crafts, music)

  • Musical Instruments
    - all rhythm instruments - bells, rattles, cymbals, drums, triangle, rhythm stick, sand blocks, xylophones.
    - horns and whistles (around 2 1/2).
  • Art and Craft Materials
    - large crayons.
    - non-toxic paints (finger and tempera) and short handled brushes with blunt ends.
    - clay.
    - sturdy markers.
    - blunt-end scissors.
    - chalkboard, large chalk.
    - colored construction paper.
  • Audio-Visual Equipment (Adult Operated)
    - operated by adult; tapes, records, CDs.
    - hand-cranked music box if cranked music box if crank is large and easy to turn.

LEARNING PLAY

  • Games
    - lotto matching games based on color pictures.
    - dominoes, especially giant dominoes.
    - board games based on chance - only a few large pieces or pairs.
  • Specific Skill Development Toys
    - simple teaching toys for:
       - matching/sorting, shapes, colors, letters/sounds, numbers, concepts.
       - all electrically powered toys need adult supervision.
  • Books
    - sturdy books with heavy paper, cardboard pages. 
    - short simple stories with repetition and familiar subjects.
    - simple pictures with clear color, few details.
    - pop-up books.
    - hidden picture books.
    - dressing books.

Young Preschoolers 3, 4, and 5 Years

ALL TOYS

  • Preschoolers prefer toys with realistic detail and working parts.
  • Increasing interest in dramatic and pretend play, by age 5, peak period for dramatic play, with all sorts of props.
  • Period of peak interest in play scenes, small figures and cars.
  • Most children in this age group can begin using toys with smaller components.  If child is still mouthing objects, select toys without small parts.
  • Toys should be sturdy:
    - not likely to break easily into small pieces or leave jagged edges.
    - no sharp or points or edges.
    - not made of glass or brittle plastic.
  • Toys should be of nontoxic materials.
  • Toys should have no electrical parts unless supervised by adult.

ACTIVE PLAY

  • Push and Pull Toys
    - small wagons.
    - small wheelbarrow.
    - push toys resembling adult tools- lawnmowers, vacuum, shopping cart.
    - doll carriages and strollers.
       from age 5;
        - full-size wagons, scooters.
  • Ride-On Toys
    - tricycles sized to child.
    - 3 -and- 4 wheel pedal toys.
    - vehicles with steering mechanisms.
    - prefer realistic, detailed vehicles.
    - full side rocking horse.
        - from age 4:
              - low-slung tricycles.
              - battery-operated ride-ons.
       - from age 5:
              - small bicycle with training wheels and foot brakes, sized to child.
              - bicycle helmet.
  • Outdoor and Gym Equipment
    - adult supervision recommended for gym equipment.
    - stationary outdoor climbing equipment.
    - slides (with siderails) and ladders.
    - swings with curved, soft seats.
    - balance board.
       -from age 4:
              - equipment with movable parts: small seesaws, hanging rings.
              - swings with flat seats, plastic or rubber belts.
              - rope ladders and ropes.
              - gym sets with enclosures for pretend house or fort.
  • Sports Equipment
    - balls of all shapes, sizes (If child is still mouthing objects, any object that appears to fit easily in the child's mouth, keep it away from the child.
    - double-blade ice skates.
    - sleds size-graded (no handbrakes or steering mechanisms).
       - from age 4:
              - lightweight softball and bat.
              - junior-sized soccer ball, football.
              - speed-graded roller skates (plastic wheels, no ball bearings for reduced speed).
              - kites.
              - wading pool.
       - from age 5:
              - jump ropes
              - skis (sized to child).
              - flying disks (especially lightweight ones).
              - flat nosed magnetic or Velcro darts.
              - inner tubes, kickboards, mattresses for beginning swimmers (adult supervision needed).

MANIPULATIVE PLAY

  • Construction Toys
    - solid wooden unit blocks, large and small.
    - large, hollow building blocks (cardboard, wood, plastic).
    - most types of interlocking building systems, pieces of all sizes (plastic rather than metal pieces).
    - no motorized parts.
    - prefer sets that make realistic models.
    - can connect pieces in specific order to create simple models.
  • Puzzles
    - fit-in or framed puzzles: age 3 , up to 20 pieces; age 4 , 20-30 pieces; age 5; up to 50 pieces.
    - large, simple jigsaw puzzles (10-25 pieces).
    - number or letter puzzles; puzzle clocks.
    - cardboard puzzles.
  • Pattern-Making Toys
    - bead stringing - longer, thinner string with stiff tip), large beads. (If child is still mouthing objects, any object that appears to fit easily in the child's mouth should be kept away from the child).
    - peg board with small pegs.
    - color cubes/color forms.
    - magnetic boards with shapes.
       - from age 4:
              - beginning interest in design material - mosaic blocks, felt boards; can follow, copy simple sequence.
       - from age 5:
              - simple weaving (looper & hedge loom); small beads to string (1/2 in.); block printing equipment.
  • Manipulative Toys
    - matching toys by color, shape or picture; from age 4, by concept, letters (ABC), numbers (1-10).
    - sorting toys; number rods.
    - number boards with smaller pegs.
    - simple counting toys; lock boxes.
    - nesting toys with multiple pieces and screw closing.
       - from age 4:
              - geometrical concept toys.
       - from age 5:
              simple models of mechanical devices or natural objects; more complex lotto matching toys.
  • Dressing, Lacing Stringing Toys
    - frames/cards to button hook, tie.
       - from age 5:
              - simple sewing kits with thick cloth & blunt needle (with supervision)
  • Sand and Water Play Toys
    - large and small sandbox tools; bubbles
    - wind-up bath toys; bath activity centers.
       - from age 4:
              - sand molds; water pump
              - realistic working models of boats (no sharp metal parts).

MAKE-BELIEVE PLAY

  • Dolls
    - realistic dolls with detail and accessories, especially baby dolls.
    - dolls with hair, moving eyes, movable limbs, special features.
       - from age 5:
              - child-proportioned dolls (can dress dolls if garments and fastenings are simple).
              - paper dolls to be punched out.
  • Stuffed Toys
    - stuffed toys with accessories - ribbons, bells, simple clothes.
    - realistic-looking toys, replicas of famous characters.
    - music box toys.
       - from age 5:
              - collecting toys in sets.
  • Puppets
    - simple sock or mitten puppets.
    - finger puppets.
    - simple puppet theater (no scenery).
        - from age 5:
              - hand-and-arm puppets, more detailed (with limbs).
  • Role-Play Materials
    - dress-ups, costumes of all types.
    - realistic, detailed equipment - By 5, want it to really work.
    - housekeeping and cooking equipment.
    - toy telephone; toy camera; doctor kits.
    - military costumes and props.
    - specialized doll equipment.
    - cash register, equipment  to play store.
    - play stages, large mirror.
  • Play Scenes
    - scenes with a variety of realistic accessories and working parts.
    - favorite themes - garage, farm, airport, space, fort.
    - action/adventure sets; action figures.
    - first doll house - simple, few rooms easy access, space to move objects around, sturdy furnishings.
       - from age 5:
              - can manipulate very small pieces; attention to realistic detail.
  • Transportation Toys
    - toy cars of all sizes - small metal cars, trucks with very realistic detail.
    - large-scale trucks, road machinery that really works (dumps, digs).
    - action/adventure vehicle sets.
    - small, realistic trains.
       - from age 5:
              - small trains with tracks; can work most train coupling systems; can plan, build simple track layouts;               wind-up and spring-driven cars.
  • Projectile Toys - none before age 4
    - soft, flexible projectiles.
    - action figures with projectile weapons.
       - from age 5:
              - guns shooting ping-pong or foam balls, soft darts.

CREATIVE PLAY (arts, crafts, music)

  • Musical Instruments
    - all rhythm instruments.
    - xylophones.
    - instruments that require blowing - harmonica, horns, whistles, simple recorder.
    - wind-up music boxes.
    - piano - one finger tunes.
  • Art and Craft Materials
    - large crayons with many colors.
    - color paddles.
    - magic markers.
    - finger and tempera paint.
    - adjustable easel.
    - brushes of various sizes.
    - clay, including modeling clay and tools.
    - chalkboards and chalk of various sizes.
    - scissors with rounded ends.
    - paste and glue.
    - simple block printing equipment.
    - pop-it beads.
    - large beads to string.
    - simple sewing kits (without needles).
       - from age 4:
              - increased interest in art products; also can copy order - workbench, hammer, nails and saw (with supervision.)
       - from age 5:
              - smaller crayons; coloring books, water color paints, simple weaving loom, small beads to string;               sewing kits with large, blunt needles.
  • Audio-Visual Equipment (Adult Operated)
    - parent operated records, tapes, or CDs (gentle regular rhythms, lullabies).
    - hand-cranked music box, worked by child if crank is large and easy to turn.
       - from age 4:
              - record and tape players for child to operate.
       - from age 5:
              - radio.

LEARNING PLAY

  • Games
    - simple matching and lotto matching games based on color pictures.
    - dominoes, (color or number).
    - board games.
    - simple card games.
    - bingo (picture).
  • Specific Skill Development Toys
    - simple teaching toys for:
       - matching/sorting, shapes, colors, letters/sounds, numbers, concepts.
       - all electrically powered toys need adult supervision.
           - from age 5:
              - science materials - magnets, flashlights, shells and rocks, magnifying glass, stethoscope, prism,               aquarium, terrarium; clock, printing set, toy typewriter or computer, simple calculator.
  • Books
    - sturdy books with heavy paper, cardboard pages. 
    - short simple stories with repetition and familiar subjects.
    - simple pictures with clear color, few details.
    - pop-up books.
    - hidden picture books.
    - dressing books.
       - age 3 interests:
              - here-and-now stories, animal stories, alphabet books, words and rhymes.
       - age 4 interests:
              - wild stories, silly humor, information books, familiar places, people.
       - age 5 interests:
              - realistic stories, poetry, primers, animals who behave like people.