Gifts for Kids

Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle

Does your holiday shopping include gifts for children?

Whether you shop for gifts for your own kids, for nieces and nephews, or for your friends’ children, you want to get gifts that will be good for them, that they will like, and that will be safe for them, too.

While finding gifts for kids that are good for them and that they will like can be a challenge, it’s important to also consider children’s gifts with these criteria:

  • Age appropriateness?
  • Safety?
  • Recalls?

Use this guide to help you find a gift that is right for the child, without fear that they will “poke their eye out.”

Age Appropriateness

Guidelines for age appropriateness should be stated on boxes of children’s toys. These guidelines do not have to do with the ability of the child; they have to do with safety. In other words, even your genius 2 year old grandson should not be given a toy that has “4 and above” on the box, not because he can not handle it, but because it is not deemed safe for children under four. There may be several reasons for this type of safety precaution, including small or removable parts. So, please heed the manufacturer’s guidelines.

If you are shopping online, check out the toy sites that make gift giving per age group automatic. Those searches have already separated out toys for age groups, for safety reasons.


Beyond small parts and age appropriateness, safety concerns about gifts for kids can also be over environmental contaminants, toxins, and poisons in or on products. While many studies are done on toys and children’s products, if there is a concern, most items are left without a recall unless they are forced to do so by the Federal Government. The recall system is reactive, rather than proactive, meaning that only AFTER a toy is on store shelves can it be tested, proven unsafe, and then eventually removed.

  • For example, products are tested for Lead Paint, and children’s products can be removed for this reason, but usually it is done after the product has been on the market and sold to countless individuals.

Other dangerous chemicals are used in children’s toys and products, without our knowledge, and without any government system requiring  a change (in the United States).

  • In addition to lead paint, check labels for any gifts for children for use of PVC, fragrance (often phthalate), and BPA. Another way to tell if these carcinogens are present:  IF the item has a recycle symbol on it, look for 3, 6, or 7. Those are the codes for PVC, phthalate, and BPA. These are known carcinogens.


Because product recalls are not made until AFTER there have been problems reported with a product, (making a Recall Warning appear sometimes to be too little, too late) the United States Federal Government has a Search box on the Consumer Product Safety Commission recall website, with a search function, so you can search for recalled items.

  • Search results for general search terms like “basketball”, for example, gave several recall notices, while searches for brand names did not provide the same results. A search for “swing” gave several sub-options.

There is also a Federal Government Recall website, which allows you to search in multiple categories, for all kinds of gifts.

Even though it can take a little longer to search for healthy and safe gifts for kids, with the possibilities of dangerous chemicals lurking without our knowledge, our children are our future, and it’s up to us to do our best for them.

SML TIP:  To find out more about toys and toy companies, try also searching on the Green America website and

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