Plastic toys are not off-limits, but be sure to do your research before you buy. "I would do a web search for it or check www.cpsc.gov," says Hartshorn. This website lists all the toy recalls and will help you do your homework before making any purchases. "Some of the recalled toys are still out there, but I want to reassure parents that, for the most part, what's on the shelves at the major retailers should be safe," says Hartshorn.
Also, try to steer clear of magnets this holiday. "Even with those magnet letters you can stick on the refrigerator, they're age-graded 3 [years] and up - and for a reason. If you swallow a magnet, that's big trouble," says Hartshorn.
One safe option is to buy your child a plush toy. "It doesn't have any of the issues that the recalled toys have," says Hartshorn. Try to avoid sewn on buttons, beads or other small parts that could easily be swallowed by a small child. Hartshorn recommends dolls from Project Grab Bag - they're made from vintage fabrics and every doll is unique. Also, look for classic toys - like stackers - made from plush fabrics instead of plastic. Sock animals - like monkeys or frogs - are also a good option.
Another classic option are wooden or cardboard blocks. Almost all children love to build towers, and blocks allow them to be creative and learn letters or numbers at the same time.
Also, try tapping into your child's imagination by buying them dress-up clothes. Princess dresses and play accessories are great for little girls, and look into buying a fireman or police officer outfit for little boys. "Kids love it, especially two and three year olds," says Hartshorn. Craft toys are another good option. Do the crafts together for some quality bonding time, even if it's just coloring or molding Play-doh.
For more information on safe toy options, visit AmericanBaby.com by clicking here.
By Erin Petrun