Posts Tagged ‘toys’

Holidays & your child with special needs- tips for the NICU, visiting Santa, dinners & traveling

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

Parents in NICUFrom spending holidays in the NICU, finding developmentally appropriate toys, eating at Grandma’s house (without a meltdown!), to visiting Santa in a loud, bright mall, the holidays can be oh so hard for a child with special needs. Here is a walk down blog post memory lane to help you get through the next few weeks and even have some fun.

We wish you a stress-free, calm, smooth holiday season. If you have any tips that have worked for you, please share them! You can find more posts on parenting a child with special needs, here.

Questions? Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

 

Toys glorious toys!

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

playing with toysAt one time, parents did not have many options to find appropriate toys for a child with a disability or developmental challenge. Nowadays, it is possible to find just the right kind of toy for your child’s individual needs. She can play at her own level and be a very happy camper.

What child does not love toys? It seems to me that the word “toy” is synonymous with “child.” It is hard to separate the two. At this time of year, there is a seemingly endless variety of toys available. Yet, for parents of a child with special needs, it can seem hard to find toys that are appropriate for your child’s condition.

Fortunately, a simple internet search for “toys for kids with special needs” will yield multiple sites that feature toys for children with physical or cognitive challenges, speech and developmental delays, hearing or vision impairments, sensory disorders, issues related to autism and learning disabilities. You can find everything from sensory swings to board games with larger print. You will not be at a loss to find the right toy for your little one.

When searching for toys by age group, remember to keep your child’s adjusted age in mind if he was born prematurely. And, see this post for other tips on shopping for toys kids with special needs.

This year, let your fingers do the searching and find the perfect gift for your child with special needs. The hours of fun your child gets from a toy that is right for him will give you hours of joy!

 

Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – How to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also view a Table of Contents of prior posts.

Feel free to ask questions. Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Some toys contain lead

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

toy11Some toys that look like fun may actually be dangerous. While new toys are a holiday tradition, parents should be aware of potential lead hazards associated with old and new toys, including toy jewelry.

Lead is invisible to the naked eye and has no smell, so how can you tell if something is safe or not? It seems reasonable to think that there may be lead in old paint on an antique toy, but there is lead in some new toys imported from foreign countries, too. I used to think plastic toys were safe, but that’s not necessarily true.

Kiddies often place toys and other objects, as well as their fingers that have touched these objects, in their mouth, which exposes them to lead paint or dust. It’s important to know where a toy comes from and if it is likely safe.

The CDC has compiled important facts about lead in toys to keep your children safe this holiday season.  Go take a look before you shop or pull an old toy from the attic.toy2

Shopping for toys for kids with special needs

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

giftsWith the holiday season fast approaching, shopping for gifts for kids is upon us. When you have a child with special needs, relatives and friends may not know the kind of gift they should get for him. The toys that a typically developing child would be able to handle or enjoy may not be the same for a developmentally challenged child. Yet, kids with challenges enjoy playing with toys just as much as their typically developing peers.  What can you do?

Toys for developmentally delayed children

There are companies that offer product lines that cater specifically to kids with special needs.  Toys may not be labeled with age ranges because a child with delays may enjoy a toy that is originally targeted for a younger child. If a company does label toys with age ranges, pick out a toy with an age range that corresponds to your child’s developmental age or adjusted age (if he is a preemie), not his chronological age. You have to remember that you need to look at your child as he is right now, and pick out a toy that suits his particular interests and abilities at this point in time. You don’t want your child feeling frustrated by not being able to play with a toy. Toys are meant to bring happiness, not frustration.

Companies may group toys by categories, such as toys that provide sensory stimulation, or those that are geared for kids with fine or gross motor issues, speech delays, etc.  With a little online searching, you are bound to come up with lots of appropriate choices for your little one.

Shopping for the holidays…NOT!

Tis the season for shopping, but taking your child to the mall or busy stores may prove to be more tension building than it is worth. This is the time when catalogs and online shopping can be a lifesaver. When your tot is napping, with Daddy, or after he has gone to sleep, whip out the laptop or catalogs and let your fingers do the shopping.  You can shop from the comfort of your home with your fuzzy slippers on.  If you shop early enough, many companies offer free shipping. Sparing your child the intensity of hours at the mall could be the best gift you give to him AND to you!

Of course, there will be times when you want to take him to the mall, for holiday photos or just to witness the festivities. But, try to keep the visits short, so that your child does not get overloaded. You know your child best – you know the warning signs of when a fuse is about to blow. Heed the warnings early on, so that your fun does not end up becoming a fiasco.

Keep it to a low roar

The holidays are a time when a child can easily feel overwhelmed. Too many new toys and new items at one time can put your little one on stimulation overload. Even just the noise and activity of wrapping paper being ripped off and strewn about can create tension. Try to keep the excitement to a low roar so that your little one can absorb and enjoy the festivities without unnecessary stress.

Bottom line

With a little planning and extra vigilance, you can not only get through the holidays – you and your child can enjoy them!

Note:  This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January and appears every Wednesday. Archived blog posts can be found on News Moms Need under “Help for your child.” As always, we welcome your comments and input.

Have questions?  Send them to AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Assembling those new toys

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Many of us are looking for toys that say “Made in America” this year. Personally, I think that’s a great idea, but regardless of where your tot’s toys come from there are several things you’ll want to take into consideration when it comes to safety and putting those toys together. The American Academy of Pediatrics has some good tips on toy safety that I thought I’d share before you’re all shopped out:

• Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child.  Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
• Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully. Boring and sometimes confusing, yes perhaps, but important.
• Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
• Children under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
• Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
• To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under age ten) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet.  Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated. BUT
• Children can have serious stomach and intestinal problems – including death — after swallowing button batteries and magnets.  Keep them away from young children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows one.
• Parents should store toys in a designated location, such as on a shelf or in a toy chest, and keep older kids’ toys away from young children.

Happy shopping and good luck with those assembly instructions!

Toy safety

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

toysThe holiday season is winding down and the kiddies have new things to play with.  If you’re like me, you might not have read every inch of the instructions before assembling that toddler-sized tricycle or push toy. But they do serve a purpose when it comes to ensuring the safety of our children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has some good tips on toy safety that I thought I’d share:
• Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child.  Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.        
• Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully. 
• To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under age ten) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet.  Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
• Children under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
• Children can have serious stomach and intestinal problems – including death — after swallowing button batteries and magnets.  Keep them away from young children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows one.       
• Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children. 
• Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
• Parents should store toys in a designated location, such as on a shelf or in a toy chest, and keep older kids’ toys away from young children.

The cardboard box

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

cardboard-boxIt’s holiday time and many folks are out shopping for toys.  I can’t believe the number of electronic gadgets there are.  There are toys that walk, talk, convert from a robot to a car, buzz, fly, have sirens and beepers and flashing lights… Seems like these offer a lot of sensory overload with not much left to a child’s imagination. And some toys are actually too loud to be safe on children’s ears. (Read this interesting article.)

I remember when my kids were really small, the best present they got wasn’t the present, it was the box it came in.  Their little minds turned that box into a drum (wooden spoons are a must), a hat, a garage for toy cars, a suitcase for doll clothes, or a carrier for dolls, a bed for baby, a push cart for the cat… One of the best gifts my children received was the big box that contained our new stove.  It was huge, a house to them.  We actually converted it into a playhouse by cutting windows and a door in the sides.

I wonder if you drove to your local appliance store if they would have any discarded boxes you could pick up.  With a little paint or some markers, just think of the things you could make for your little ones – a house, a car, a space ship… In these tough times, it wouldn’t cost much and probably would make a fabulous gift.

Massive Fisher-Price recall of toys and high chairs

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

f-p-tricycleToy manufacturer Fisher-Price announced Thursday that it has recalled about 10 million toys because they were dangerous to children.

Approximately 2.8 million of various baby play areas with inflatable balls were recalled in the U.S. due to problems with choking. (It also recalled 125,000 of the toys in Canada.)  The company found that a valve from the inflatable ball can come off and become a choking hazard.

Fisher-Price, which is part of Mattel Inc., also decided to recall more than 7 million tricycles due to a protruding part that had cut some children.  The company also said it recalled about 120,000 small car toys because of at least two reported cases where the wheels came off and caused a choking hazard.

Along with the toys, the company also recalled close to a million of several types of high chairs because of 14 reports of children being cut by the chair legs.  In seven of the cases, the injured children needed stitches, the company said.

You can read details of the recalled items on the Mattel website.   Customers can call the Fisher-Price hot line at 800-432-5437 for more information.

TV and toddlers

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

20038704_thbIt may be tempting to put your infant or toddler in front of the television, especially to watch shows created just for children under age two. But the American Academy of Pediatrics says: Don’t do it! These early years are crucial in a child’s development. The Academy is concerned about the impact of television programming intended for children younger than age two and how it could affect your child’s development. Pediatricians strongly oppose targeted programming, especially when it’s used to market toys, games, dolls, unhealthy food and other products to toddlers. Any positive effect of television on infants and toddlers is still open to question, but the benefits of parent-child interactions are proven. Under age two, talking, singing, reading, listening to music or playing are far more important to a child’s development than any TV show. For more information on your child’s health, visit www.aap.org.

Are plastics safe for baby?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

You may have seen some news reports about the possible risk of plastics for babies. This is one of those frustrating times when we wished we had more information! This post may help you decide what you want to do. 

Plastics are made from certain chemicals. Two of those chemicals are phthalates (THA-laytz) and bisphenol A (BIZ-fee-nawl ay).

  • Phthalates make plastic soft and flexible. They are used in toys, rattles, teethers, and medical devices such as tubing.
  • Bisphenol A, also called BPA, makes plastics clear, strong, and hard to break. It is used in baby bottles, food containers and water bottles.

Scientists are debating whether these chemicals pose a risk to children’s health. Various scientific groups have reviewed the research and have come to different conclusions about these chemicals. The research is unclear. More studies are needed to find answers.

What We Know About BPA
On April 14, the National Toxicology Program issued a draft report expressing some concern about the possible risk of bispheonl A to fetuses, infants and children. In animal studies, this chemical has caused changes in behavior, the brain, the prostate gland, the mammary gland, and the age at which females attain puberty.  

Remember, these were animal studies, and sometimes humans react differently than animals. We need more research to see if these changes also occur in humans. Meanwhile, the government of Canada is being cautious and has taken the first steps to ban baby bottles made with BPA.

What We Know about Phthalates
The European Union has banned phthalates from toys. But the U.S. government has not done so. In the United States and Canada, companies no longer use phthalates in the nipples of baby bottles, teethers, and toys intended to go in the baby’s mouth.

The National Toxicology Program has concluded that one type of phthalate used in plastic medical tubing and equipment could post a risk to baby’s boy’s reproductive systems. Some hospitals have begun to remove such products from newborn nurseries.

What Some Parents Are Doing
Since research is still being done on phthalates and bisphenol A, some parents have chosen to be cautious. Here are some of the things they are doing: 

  • Breastfeeding their babies so they don’t have to use baby bottles
  • Giving their babies toys made of fabric or unpainted wood
  • Using baby bottles made of glass, polypropylene, or polyethylene
  • Using baby products with labels that say they don’t contain BPA or phthalates