Are Battery Toys Bad For Babies?

Battery toys can capture the attention of babies with flashing lights and sounds, but are they bad for a baby’s development? It’s important to know the impact of keeping your baby busy with battery toys and why it’s best to keep them minimal.

are battery toys bad for babies

Battery Operated Toys for Babies

Just as there are many reasons to choose non-battery toys, you might want your baby to keep busy on their own. Battery operated toys or electronics with all the lights, bells, and whistles might seem like a good way to distract them!

Battery toys don’t inherently harm babies. But when it comes to health, happiness, safety, and developmental growth, there is good reason to limit battery toys.

One of the main disadvantages of battery toys and electronics for babies is that they disengage them from social interaction, which is necessary for their language, social, and emotional development. 

So while that light-up baby toy isn’t taking away from any already developed brain pathways, it’s not helping to build new ones.

Consider these four reasons to minimize the use of battery operated toys, and maximize the use of safe baby toys.

1. Overstimulation

Just like older kids and adults, babies can get overstimulated. Frequent overstimulation causes an excess production of stress hormones, which could make your baby over-sensitive to their environment. 

When using a battery operated toy, pay attention to your baby’s cues. These are signs of overstimulation in babies:

  • crying
  • irritability
  • wincing
  • shutting down (sleeping)
  • a tense body
  • tantrums

This is a good time to create a more calming environment by dimming the lights, swaddling, or gently rocking them. The ability to properly process sensory information paves the pathways in babies’ brains for regulation, coping skills, and attention span. 

Another good rule of thumb is to pay attention to your own cues. If you feel irritated, annoyed, and overstimulated by your baby’s battery toy, they probably will too!

2. Are Battery Operated Toys Safe?

Battery injuries are becoming more common in babies and toddlers – from choking to causing burns requiring surgery. Watch out specifically for toys that have button batteries, and any battery that is the size of a penny or larger. 

In addition to reducing the use of battery toys, consider these safety precautions:

  1. Only use battery toys that require a screwdriver to open the battery compartment. 
  2. Make sure the battery compartment closes with a child-lock mechanism. 
  3. Don’t change the toy’s batteries in front of your child. 
  4. Check toys regularly to make sure they are in good shape and the batteries are intact, especially if your baby threw or dropped the toy.
  5. Only use toys that don’t have button batteries. 

Another potential concern for babies using toys with batteries is corrosion, especially for babies who put everything in their mouths. Battery corrosion is dangerous and causes burns to the skin or eyes when exposed. 

Some battery operated toys are safer than others, so a good way to go about using them is with caution and boundaries for which toys are safest.

3. Developmental Growth

Babies tend to be passively engaged and distracted when they play with toys that have lights and sounds. While they may not lose developmental skills with the use of these toys, they won’t gain any skills either. 

It is important to consider the amount of time a baby spends passively engaged. First, opt for toys that encourage their language, social, emotional, and developmental milestones. 

A good place to start is choosing age-appropriate toys to keep your baby engaged in play that is in line with their development. 

When babies are distracted by busy lights and sounds, their adults tend to engage with them less. This can slow down their language development. So less is more when it comes to passive engagement. 

Encourage play with your baby where you talk to them, they see your facial expressions, and they use their fine and gross motor skills to actively help their development and imagination as they grow.

4. Not Eco Friendly

Most battery operated toys are not eco-friendly. Many are made with plastic and end up in a landfill. Not to mention the harmful toxins in plastic toys that are unsafe for your baby. 

Batteries themselves are toxic. While they can be recycled in most areas, not everyone has access to that service. When they do, it’s not always easy. In some places, people have to save and take the batteries to the recycling center themselves. This can be very inconvenient for new parents!

With so many eco-friendly baby toy options available, reach towards those first.

Use the battery toy from Grandma or the random light-up gift from Auntie up on the shelf and only use them for special occasions. It’s better for your baby and the environment!

Toys That Help Babies’ Brain Development

If you are looking for toys that help and encourage brain development, motor skills, and imagination for your baby, these are some great choices! 

The Kiwi subscription box is a great way to get developmentally appropriate Montessori toys delivered right to your door! Their Panda crate is designed specifically for babies.

Child development specialists created Lovevery’s play kits specifically for children from birth to age 5. This curated toy kit ships every three months and each set is specifically designed for your child’s developmental stage. You can start or stop the subscription at any time.

Babies love the sound and feel of this crackly lovey from HABA. It’s soft and gives gentle sensory feedback. This soft baby book is another similar option that is super cute.

This pyramid clutching toy is perfect for little hands, safe for chewing, and works on a variety of motor skills naturally. 

Start with a group of natural toys with this multi-stage sensory gift set from Hape. These are perfect to support your baby’s nervous system and motor skills in a way they’ll love! 

This wooden teether toy is wonderful for little hands that want to put everything in their mouth when they’re teething. 

In an ode to the plastic rings we all grew up with, this natural and safe stacks of circles toy is gentle and kind to babies and the environment.

More Resources for Safe Toys

Not only should toys be developmentally appropriate and not overstimulating, they shouldn’t be toxic. Here are some resources to help you choose safer toys for your baby

Non Baby Toy Guide
The Benefits of Battery Free Toys for Kids
Safer Options to Plastic Toys
Are PVC Toys Safe? How to avoid “the poison plastic”
DIY and Upcycled Toy Projects
Mindfulness Toys for Kids
The Art of Toy Rotation

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