Play is essential to optimal child development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. It also offers an ideal and significant opportunity for parents and other caregivers to engage fully with children using toys as an instrument of play and interaction. The evolution of societal perceptions of toys from children's playthings to critical facilitators of early brain and child development has challenged caregivers in deciding which toys are most appropriate for their children. This clinical report strives to provide pediatric health care providers with evidence-based information that can be used to support caregivers as they choose toys for their children. The report highlights the broad definition of a toy; consideration of potential benefits and possible harmful effects of toy choices on child development; and the promotion of positive caregiving and development when toys are used to engage caregivers in play-based interactions with their children that are rich in language, pretending, problem-solving, and creativity. The report aims to address the evolving replacement of more traditional toys with digital media-based virtual "toys" and the lack of evidence for similar benefits in child development. Furthermore, this report briefly addresses the role of toys in advertising and/or incentive programs and aims to bring awareness regarding safety and health hazards associated with toy availability and accessibility in public settings, including some health care settings.
Copyright © 2019 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.