Choosing and using toys wisely is an essential part of helping your child get the most out of toys and play
Make sure that your toys conform to safety standards and will not present a risk to your child. When selecting the best toys for your baby /toddlers age group, think about what you want to get out of the toy that you purchase. It may be just for enjoyment of touch and feel, it may be its attraction and colours or have an educational purpose. Visit a reputable shop, ideally one that is a member of the British Association of Toy Retailers (BATR) where you are more likely to get good advice. Look for the Lion Mark on packaging which is a symbol of safety and quality, backed by a code of practice developed by the British Toy & Hobby Association. Do not confuse this with the CE mark which is simply a sign of conformity aimed at assisting the free movement of goods within the European Union and that they are manufactured within the EU.
What to look out for when buying a toy
• Watch out for small parts. If there is a safety message such as "not suitable for a child under 36 months because of small parts", it should be taken literally.
• Age advice such as "recommended for children aged 3-4" is discretionary. Make sure you agree that the toy you are considering is suitable for the child you have in mind and remember that if a toy is may be safe for one child but a hazard to another.
• Don't buy a toy for an older child because 'she is so bright'. Toys designed for older children can be at worst, dangerous, at best, frustrating.
• Check the toy. Ask to see it out of its box and check that it is sturdy and well-made. A toy that is not strong enough to withstand play will be a disappointment to any child.
• Packaging should be disposed of carefully.
Looking after toys and children
• Tidy up toys when they are finished with, and encourage the children to do the same. Toys left on the stairs are a particular hazard.
• Look carefully at second-hand or old toys and throw away those that are damaged. Be particularly careful with toys in cots.
• Never allow children to hold noisy toys next to their ear as bangs or single loud tones can sometimes damage hearing.
• When changing batteries, change them all at once. New batteries can make old batteries get dangerously hot.