By Interactive Metronome - December 3, 2013

Toy Story

T-O-Y! Toy! You Don’t Have to Go to Infinity and Beyond to Find Safe Toys for Your Pediatric Practice.


Finding safe toys that will keep children’s attention is a major concern for pediatric healthcare professionals. It is easy to avoid small parts that pose choking hazards, sharp edges that cut, toxic materials, electrical shock risks and toys that simulate violence, but are you policing all of the fun out of playtime? Ideally, toys will advance therapeutic goals AND still be motivating, rewarding, engaging and entertaining. After all, a “fidget toy” won’t help keep a child’s hands busy if it can’t keep his attention. So, how do you find the right educational toy for your practice?



First, consider how appropriate the toy is for the therapy. Video games may keep a child engaged and entertained, but will Halo improve focus and decision-making? No, the repetitive action and linear progression of video games will often discourage imagination and the increased screen time leads to physical inactivity, which is another major developmental issue for children. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children spend less than two hours a day in front of a video screen…any screen (computers, video games, tablets, mobile phones and television).


Playtime is an important part of social, emotional and cognitive development in children; stimulating and developmentally appropriate toys will foster activities that can help children work out real-life problems. It is essential to avoid toys that promote aggressive behavior or negative stereotypes about race, gender, socioeconomic level and sexuality. As children learn to engage socially, reinforcing negative perceptions will cause confusion. With that in mind, it is important for pediatric professionals to provide a supportive environment that fosters positive interaction.


Lastly, playtime is not just a way to keep children busy or a substitute for attention from a caregiver. As professionals, it is important to keep children enthused, focused and constantly improving. Remember, parents will look to pediatric professionals for advice on toys to keep in the home. Selecting the right toys for your practice and educating parents/caregivers about the importance of play can help advance therapeutic goals more rapidly. Any opportunity to play is an opportunity to educate.


Check out this list of educational toy manufacturers and retailers:


·      Abilitations (

·      Achievement Products (

·      Discount School Supply (

·      Discount Teacher Supply (

·      Discovery Toys (

·      Flaghouse (

·      Fun and Function (

·      Lakeshore Learning (

·      Oriental Trading (

·      PDP – Professional development Products (

·      Pocket Full of Therapy (

·      Pro-ed inc (

·      School Specialty (

·      Southpaw Enterprises (

·      Therapro (

·      Therapy Shoppe (

·      U.S. Toys/Constructive Playthings (


Specialized Triggers for IM


·      Ablenet (

·      Enabling Devices (

·      Tapeswitch Corporation (

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