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Discerning Gift-Givers Look for Toys That Offer More Than Fun
Date:12/19/2011

and probably not beneficial," he said. "Our human brains did not evolve to sit in front of a screen with flashing lights and loud sounds. It is potentially harmful to child development."

So what toys are good for kids? Gardner believes parents should begin by keeping it simple.

"Keep in mind, a lot of time kids have more fun with the box than the toy that was inside," he said. "Parents don't need to spend a lot of money, or have a lot of angst whether this is the 'Einstein' toy that's going to make their child brilliant."

Types of toys that allow kids to engage their imaginations and intellects, according to Hoffman and Gardner, include:

  • Building blocks or Legos.
  • Paints, modeling clays and other art supplies.
  • Puzzles and games that promote logic and reasoning.

Parents also should consider toys that prompt outdoor activity or physical exercise, like bicycles, skates and outdoor play equipment, the two pediatricians said.

"I love the idea of toys that are going to get kids outside, active, running around playing," Hoffman said. "It helps set the stage for kids who remain active later on."

These sorts of gifts require more forethought and vigilance from parents and other gift-buyers, however. They need to make sure they're purchasing age-appropriate gear for kids, along with any helmets and other protective equipment needed for safe use.

"Toys with wheels often are bought prematurely for children," Hoffman said. "Even though they may seem to have the manual dexterity, they don't have the cognitive ability to assess risks."

The same goes for swing sets and other outdoor play equipment, which can pose a falling hazard for kids who are too young, he said.

"If the child is going to play with these items, there needs to be an adult there to supervise, depending on their age," Hoffman said. "A 10-year-old on a bicycle on a closed street in a neighborhood is completely appropriate. Se
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