The above image shows a toddler blowing bubbles.
3 Things You Need to Know About Toddlers and Carnival Prizes!
There are 3 points we'd love for all carnival planners to keep in mind when planning carnivals for all age ranges.
During our years of carnival experience (plus input from our team members who have kids of their own), we've noticed a few things about toddlers (ages 1 - 3) playing carnival games and being excited about winning carnival prizes just like everyone else. We have also had our share of customers calling and asking us about Toddler Safe Prizes.
Although we have always recommended preschool type snacks (see more details below) we did not have prizes and toys that were considered safe for the little ones until recently!
We've written this article to help you optimize the carnival experience for big and little kids alike, so that toddlers and their parents aren't feeling left out from games designed primarily for the bigger kids while also helping to keep toddlers safe too!
Toddlers Want To Be Like The "Big Kids"
The above image shows a mom and three children at an outdoor carnival.
Toddlers look up to their older friends and love joining them in all the carnival games they play. Some may feel a little left out if they are unable to join their older friends in playing the "bigger kid" carnival games. There are a few games they won't be able to play, such as the ordinary basketball games - they are too tall for tiny tots!
However, toddlers will love to try games that are accessible to them, such as any games on the ground or a short table. We recommend having toddler versions of big kid games, such as a modified basketball game on the ground. Remember, toddlers are active! They love walking and exploring everywhere. Toddlers especially want to play every game their friends & siblings are playing!
Feel Free to Adjust Carnival Games For Toddlers...
We've already touched on this above, but be sure to make games a little easier for kids aged 1 - 3 years old.
Like the ground basketball game discussed above, alter a few carnival games to make them toddler-friendly.
The above image shows a toddler tossing rings for a carnival game.
Another BIG thing you can do is to tell volunteers to allow toddlers to move up past the lines so that they're closer to allow these little guys a chance at winning with the Cola Ring Toss, Bean Bag Toss, Ring Toss and Fish Bowl Carnival Game.
A few years ago we were at a neighborhood kids carnival and a toddler was attempting to play the bean bag toss game. This adorable child was trying to toss the bean bags, but they were only going about 2 feet forward. We allowed this little tyke to stand much closer and she was so happy when she was able to get one bean bag through the hole - she was not even concerned about the prize she had won!
Of course, you would expect little ones to be attracted to the Pluck a Duck Game or Duck Matching Game, but also, be prepared to have toddlers interested in playing games that are "games of chance" like the Lollipop Pull, Grab Bag too!
Ordinary Carnival Prizes are not Safe for Toddlers...
Almost all small toys and prizes offered at a carnivals and festivals are marked with this label "WARNING: Choking Hazard - Not recommended for children under the age of three years." Therefore, you need to plan for a small number of toddlers who will want to be like the "big kids", but are not ready for the big kid toys. For more information about toy safety - see the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website.
We highly recommend that any tots under 3 be given toys that are professionally safety-tested for all ages. Fortunately, you have a few options when it comes to toddler carnival prizes!
First, you can purchase snack bags of animal crackers and other similar toddler foods to give away as prizes.
Second, we have a relatively new Toddler Safe Prizes on our website for toddler toys & prizes that are safety-tested for children of all ages and would also make a great giveaway for children with special needs!
Be sure to mark these safer toys as toddler-safe or "Toddler Prizes" so that volunteers know which are big kid toys, and which are toys for tots.
Fortunately, you won't need many toddler toys and snacks. Provide about 15 - 20 toddler-friendly prizes and snacks at each booth for an average-sized carnival of 500 or so expected guests.
One more tip is to create a sign advertising to parents: "Ask our volunteers about our toddler-safe toys & treats!" at your ticket booth so parents will know you have other "safer" options for their young children.
If your booths are giving away candy to bigger kids as a prize, be sure to have toddler-friendly snacks available too. Also, remember to mark these foods as toddler-safe, so that volunteers know which treats are safe for young children. We recommend providing individual-serve fish-shaped crackers, toddler fruit snacks, popular toasted oat or fruit flavored cereal, or packaged rice crispy treats instead of candy.
Toddlers absolutely should not be given small hard candies, as they pose a choking hazard. As a matter of fact, we do not recommend hard, disk shaped candies for any children at a carnival!
Of course, we are certainly not asking anyone to be the "toddler safety police." Rather, we believe that parents with children under the age of three should be given the option to receive the big kid toys, or the safer toddler toys.
The above image shows a bucket filled with colorful spike balls safe for all ages.
One more easy solution, for games that all ages play, have some prizes that are safety tested for all children! Once again, in our Toddler Safe Toys webpage we have toys that kids of ALL AGES will love like the 5-inch Value Pack Spike Bouncing Balls that are fun for teens and adults too and cost less than 50 cents each!!
Thank you for reading the Carnival Savers blog and we hope you found some helpful hints! Be sure to check out the rest of our carnival hints and tips blog for more ideas on saving time and money at your next carnival!