Toys are supposed to be something that gives a child endless hours of fun and excitement. Nothing is worse than when a toy causes a child injury, aggravation, or unhappiness. For young children especially, if a toy is too small or has parts that are too small, it will often be inappropriate for the child. When choosing a toy for a young child, always consider possible problems and dangers with a small toy.
Babies and toddlers are especially fond of putting things in their mouths. No matter the object or material, almost every toddler will eventually attempt to swallow it. As it is simply impossible to always have an adult watching a toddler, toys for toddlers need to be too large to cause a choking hazard. A good rule of thumb to determine whether a toy is small enough to be dangerous is to see if the toy fits inside a toilet paper roll. If it does, it is a choking hazard. This same test should also be done with any removable parts on a toy.
Young children, up until the age of about 4-6 years old tend to have pudgy fingers and limited manual dexterity. Toys with small buttons or small working parts will be difficult for a child to manipulate. This will create aggravation rather than enjoyment. If an adult wearing a pair of thin gloves has difficulty manipulating the toy than a child will likely have an equally difficult time.
Children who regularly take trips with parents often take a toy or two with them. Young children, easily distracted by other things, are likely to put the toy down and forget where it they put it. The smaller a toy is, the more likely it is to be lost permanently, whereas parent and child have a better chance of noticing a larger toy left lying about. A good travel toy should be at least the size of two adult fists.
Just as very young children eat everything, slightly older children like to try to fit inside of everything. When considering the size of a toy, the size of any openings in the toy also needs to be taken into account. If a toy has an opening roughly the size of an adult middle finger, a child will likely get a finger stuck in it. If an opening is roughly the size that four adult fingers, a child’s arm will probably get stuck. Openings that are roughly the size of a cantaloupe could allow a child to get a head stuck inside.
In general, when it comes to toys for children, bigger is better. A favorite stuffed animal or toy car that is ten inches long is much less likely to get lost than four inch version of either. And matchbox cars are simply a dangerous choking hazard until a child is old enough to know better. Children’s video games are wonderfully colorful, but unless the controller has oversized buttons, it will probably create nothing but frustration. Conveniently, children usually also think that bigger is better and are unlikely to be upset about bigger versions of standard toys.