Whether it’s birthdays or the holidays, it’s that time of year when you may be finding yourself writing gift lists and sharing with family and friends what toys your little one might enjoy. Below are some toys you might want to avoid as well as some toys you might want to consider adding to your list!

Noisy Toys: Believe it or not, there are toys out there that are so noisy, they can actually increase the risk of hearing loss! Sight and Hearing Association provides a list of noisy toys every year, Noisy Toy List 2016. A few of the toys listed exceed 100 decibels (dB). Exposure to this level of noise can damage hearing in less than 15 minutes. Here are a few toys marketed for little ones (birth – three) that you should try to avoid.

  1. My First Tonka – Wobble Wheels
  2. Bright Starts  – Jingle & Glow Safari Gift Set
  3. VTech – Pull & Learn Alligator
  4. VTech – Go! Go! Smart Wheels: Ambulance
  5. Fisher Price – Laugh & Learn Light Up Learning Speaker
  6. PlaySkool – Sesame Street: Talking ABC Elmo

Does your child have a noisy toy they just love? Instead of taking the batteries out (which is always an option!) you can cover the speaker with clear packing tape to bring the volume down a bit.

Educational Toys: So what do you buy for your little ones this holiday season? Here are some of our favorite educational toys for kiddos that develop dramatic play and problem solving skills and are tons of fun! For a complete list of toys and associated language activities, please see Playing With Words 365’s blog post on gift ideas.

  1. Wee Sing – Children’s Songs and Finger Plays
  2. Melissa & Doug – Baby Doll and Accessories
  3. Lakeshore Learning – All About Me Photo Book
  4. Little People – Holiday on Main Street
  5. Squigz – Suction Construction Toys

Take Home Tips: Chances are you will be doing some gift wrapping and unwrapping this holiday season! Take advantage of these moments with your children to foster their listening and language skills.

Gift Opening

  • Shake the box and listen for a sound. Describe what you hear (e.g. loud/quiet, low/high).
  • For older children, encourage them to guess what it might be based on the sound it makes as well as the size and shape of the box.
  • Slowly tear off a piece of the wrapping paper, listening to the sound it makes.
  • Talk about your child’s actions: “You are opening the box. It’s open! Let’s peek inside.”
  • Describe the toy and take time to show your child how to play with it.

Gift Wrapping

Give your child an empty cardboard box, a toy, some scraps of wrapping paper, and some tape. Here are some phrases you can use to guide this activity:

  • “Uh oh! The box is EMPTY.”
  • “Put the toy IN.”
  • “Let’s CLOSE the box. Bye bye toy!”
  • “Let’s tape on the wrapping paper!”
  • “Ooh. The tape is STICKY. Feel it… sticky!”
  • “All done!”