The age listed on labels of toys and games is often a recommendation based on safety concerns, not developmental suitability.
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At present, there are simply no global guidelines in place for age recommendations listed on toys with the exception of rules regarding choking hazards for children under three years of age. Recommended-age guidelines, where they do exist, pertain mostly to safety and basically ensure that a child can use the toy in some way, saying little about the overall developmental appropriateness.
Relatively few toymakers are savvy when it comes to creating age-appropriate suggestions, and only a few major companies have in-house developmental specialists and/or develop toys in collaboration with a daycare or nursery center.
Though age recommendations can be helpful, each child is unique and develops at their own pace. Because many countries allow sellers to modify the age recommendation in a written description of the product, be skeptical of age recommendations, and compare the recommendation from a manufacturer with that of the seller. In some cases, the seller may have engaged a trusted specialist to reevaluate the manufacturer’s recommendation, but in many cases, age changes are simply an opportunity to increase sales.
Keep these considerations in mind before you buy, especially when purchasing online and relying on description without being able to see the product packaging. The best thing to do when purchasing toys is to consider the child’s stage before age: consider the maturity, skill level and interests of the child, read the age labels carefully and use them only as loose guidelines.
A note about the author:
Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary, MD Ph.D. is the Founder of The Babyboost Institute for Early Learning and Development. Want more tips? Purchase Babyboost: 50 Critical Facts on Amazon.