How To Choose Safe Crib Toys For Your Baby

Keeping the crib stocked with safe, stimulating toys will promote restful naptimes, and here are some suggestions.

All children are beautiful, especially when they're asleep. After reading a story and sharing a special snuggle, many parents lay their children in cribs at naptime, hoping they'll be dreaming soon. When choosing toys to give an infant or toddler to play with in a crib at as he or she drifts off to sleep, choose toys that are safe, that stimulate brain development, and that promote restful sleep.

Safety First

Safety is the biggest concern in choosing a toy your child will take to bed. In many cases, you'll be going into another room while your child falls asleep, so you won't be watching to be sure your child is not eating the toy or playing does-it-fit-in-my-nose. Because you don't supervise your child during naps as carefully as you do in other situations, pay extra careful attention to safety.

Choose toys that are designed for your child's age range. While buying a size up works well for clothes, it's not a good idea for toys. Toys are developed and recommended for particular age groups with safety, education, and fun in mind. Toys designed for your child's age will help him or her to grow, while toys that are out of your child's developmental reach are more likely to be misused.

Take extra care to make sure you place hazard-free toys in your child's crib. Specifically, watch for sharp points and edges, small parts (anything that fits through a toilet paper tube is too small), loud noises, items that protrude, or lack of the underwriter's laboratory (UL) seal on electrical toys. Remove toys or replace batteries immediately when toys stop working, to avoid leaking battery fluid. Never tie toys to a crib mobile or suspend them above a crib, because they could entangle or strangle a child trying to reach for them.

Stimulating, not overstimulating

Flashing lights and peppy songs make most children's toys fun to play with. Push a button and a song plays, or lights flash, or both. These types of toys are great tools that encourage interactive play and have long-term appeal. However, they are too stimulating for the type of restful play that leads to healthy sleep. When choosing toys to put in a crib with a child who you hope will be sleeping peacefully within a few minutes, choose toys that utilize recent research on brain development. You want to give your sleepy baby toys that have patterns and contrasting colors, that play classical music, and that allow young children to mimic activities they see parents and older siblings perform. Toys that encourage creativity and learning, such as sturdy books, large blocks, dolls, and stuffed animals, are also appropriate.

Novelty lasts only a short time, even for the safest, most appropriate toys. If your goal is for your child to play quietly for a few minutes before settling down for a nap, be sure to change the toys you place in the crib. Children tend to become bored with a toy after a few days or a week, so rotate toys frequently. Keeping a box of carefully chosen toys on a shelf in the room where your child sleeps will save time on those days when your cranky child is ready for sleep, and you've just realized that his toys have been in the crib for too long. If the toys in your box are safe and appropriate, resting time will be a success.

© High Speed Ventures 2011