For the concerned and diligent parent, finding toys for kids that are not only affordable, but also safe is something of a chore at times. After all, you don't just want to purchase whatever is most popular; your goal is to find toys that actually offer some kind of value to children. And of course, you don't want the toys you buy to pose a health or safety risk to your kids. So here are just a few options that should help to keep your kids safe without breaking the bank.
- Sock monkey. Most of us had one of these funny-looking, old-timey stuffed animals as a kid, and thanks to the adage that everything old is new, there's a whole new community of sock monkeys out there just waiting for a new generation of kids to take them home. Luckily, the gray-and-red standard has undergone something of a makeover so that you can now bring home a product in your child's favorite colors. But if you want the traditional sock monkey that you recall from your own childhood, there's no reason you can't get one to place on your own pillow, as well, and for less than $20 in general, unless you opt for and oversized version.
- Green Toys tractor. You may already be familiar with the Green Toys line if you're into eco-friendly fare for your kids. The company, based in San Francisco, makes their toys from recycled products, and they've become well-known for their vehicular playthings, including a school bus and a dump truck. But thanks to clamoring consumers, this year has seen the addition of a bright orange tractor manufactured entirely from recycled plastic mined from milk jugs. Not only is it safe since there are no removable parts, but the price isn't bad at just under twenty bucks. And the best part: it's dishwasher safe.
- Skyrocket Toys Quick Attach Microscope. This one probably isn't suited for little kids, but any children of school age will appreciate the clip-on gadget companion that turns the average smartphone or tablet into a mobile microscope for a mere $14.99. All they have to do is affix it to the camera and they can see tiny objects in front of the lense on a much larger scale, amplified on the screen. No longer will crawling insects, couch lint, or the fine hairs on your face be a mystery to your child. Just be careful what you let them catalog – they can also send pictures and videos of what they find.
- Fisher-Price Create ‘n Learn iPad Case. There are two major problems with letting your kids get a hold of your tablet. First, they are messy and you don't want goopy PB&J or a sippy cup full of OJ all over your expensive mobile device. Second, you want to make sure that they are viewing appropriate content for their age. So it's Fisher-Price to the rescue with an Otterbox (read: practically indestructible) case that you simply drop your iPad into in order to turn it into an interactive learning experience for your kids that offers fun lessons with letters, words, and eventually handwriting. At nearly $40 it's a bit pricy for some parents, but consider it an insurance policy on your device.
- Bead maze. There are dozens of products of this nature on the market, so you might spend anywhere from about $15-50 depending on the complexity of the model. But these toys, consisting of a wooden base and winding, coated-wire tracks dotted with beads, are the bee's knees for toddlers, helping them to increase motor skills and spatial awareness. And small parts can't come off, so there's little danger of choking. You don't need a review on Toybuzz website or another outlet to tell you that this type of toy is going to be a hit with the kids.