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Recommended ages

I am a horrible mama. I buy my child toys that are outside of his age range. I know, I know... I should have my mama license taken away. The thing is... all of the cool toys are 3+. In fact it seems like ALL of the toys are 3+! I know that's not the case, but when I am eyeing a toy for my little guy it really seems that way. For the record... he's 20 months old. Very few of his toys are actually 3+ and the ones that are can only be played with while me or daddy are with him. That makes it OK, right? Some toys are obviously beyond his age, like the fridge magnets (even though they are oversized and do not fit through a paper towel tube, which is another one of his toys). Those had to be taken away again because he derives great joy from swiping them all off the fridge at once, sending them all crashing to the floor. If anyone's seen my kitchen, then they know what the problem with this is (imagine a kitchen the size of a postage stamp). The other thing I'm guilty of is turning things that aren't otherwise toys into toys. Typically this means tupperware, measuring cups, collanders, wooden spoons... that type of thing. I can't be the only mama who does this. Is that a bad idea simply because these things don't even come with an age range on them? In the end I figure that although the chances for disaster are potentially raised by offering my child toys they are not recommended to use, this increase in danger is mitigated by active and engaged parental involvement. Does that count?

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I'm pretty sure the 3+ designation on toys is often about liability rather than developmental appropriateness. Three year olds are considered less likely to choke on things than two year olds or one year olds. Often 3+ toys have small parts. My 2 year old isn't that inclined to put them in his mouth (which is nice given that he's rather high maintenance in other areas), but they do have a tendency to get lost.

A friend who has three older children has recently advised me to avoid all toys that consist of many small parts (legos, etc.). I think she was kidding. I say buy your kid whatever you think he/she will like. Sometimes you'll be wrong at first (but there's always time, right?).

I like the idea of buying used, especially since most every toy these days is made in China (and apparently 70% of the proceeds of Chinese made goods goes straight to the People's Republic Army who are inforcing the government's policy of genocide on Tibet). Is there a good used toy store in Portland? It seems like someone could make a really good business out of that concept. Craigslist.com is another good option.

I was amused the other day to see a Halloween costume on the rack at Fred Meyer that was sized for very young toddlers (12-18 months, I think) but clearly marked with a 3+ warning sticker.

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