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Tips for Buying Baby's First Toys
Babies love to play—and few things make them happier than a new toy. In addition to entertaining your baby, toys help develop motor and social skills. The following guidelines can help your baby get the most out of a new toy:

Age Appropriateness is Key
It's important to know where your child is developmentally at a given age
  • Choose toys that fit your baby's level of learning. Try to find toys that will challenge your child without causing frustration.
  • Always check age labeling on the toy. Labeling is based on a child's physical and mental ability, play needs, interests and safety. For example, toys with small parts can present choking hazards for children less than three years of age.
Stimulate the Senses
Each day is full of new discoveries for your baby. First toys and activities should be designed to stimulate your child's sensory development.
  • Toys that are chewable or have interesting sights, sounds, and textures help your baby explore and learn.
  • To foster your child's awareness of how to make things happen, toys should be easy to activate and encourage a child's interaction, such as a baby gym or activity center.
  • If no interest is shown in a new toy, your baby may not be ready for it. Put the new toy away and reintroduce it at a later time.
Always Put Safety First
Keep safety in mind when selecting a toy for your baby.
  • Many old heirloom toys do not meet today's safety standards—they may contain lead or potentially harmful pieces.
  • Make sure the toy is sturdy, a safe size, and will not come apart easily, presenting a choking or cutting hazard.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education