It's estimated that the average American will spend $710 on holiday gifts this year, and you can bet a large chunk of that will go to toys for the kids. And while they provide hours of entertainment and can, at times, serve as a learning tool, they can also drive parents crazy.
Shannon Eis, parenting expert and contributor for Time to Play magazine, appeared on "The Early Show" with some of this season's hottest toys -- and tips on how to stay sane while your kids enjoy them.
This building compound has a crumbly texture...like moon sand....that can be shaped and molded...and never dries out. The problem is that it can make a mess that even challenges your vacuum.
Tip for parents: Don't use near carpet or play surfaces with crevices, and place a protective layer over the play area.
Crayola Spin Art
Crayola are the experts on creative, crafty play…and Spin Art is a great new twist on their excellent paint products. You put paint on a disk and then set it spinning...flinging paint everywhere.
Good news is that it works every time and kids get immediate gratification.
Tip for parents: Give kids a smock or apron and cover painting area and floor before using.
Crazy Legs Learning Bug
This toy from V-tech has lots of features that toddlers love…and that drive parents crazy. It's on/off switch is easy for small hands to use, which means that can be "bumped" on…and then it keeps chatting and chatting and chatting. Also features a lot of puzzle-like attachments that can be frustrating for children who are too young and without the necessary motor skills to operate it.
Tip for parents: Use the "try me" feature in a store before buying products and ago online to read product reviews.
Justin Bieber doll
The must-have collector doll this year…and he's making quite a statement. Whether it's his coiffed hair or teen idol looks…young girls are going to be scrambling for this item. But parents will be scrambling to escape the room where it's being played with. The pop sensation's songs come belting out of this doll and his clothes aren't sold separately….you have to buy a new doll to get his killer duds.
Tip for parents: Learn to love his music now.
Bathtub Paints and Crayons
A must-have for kids and a sanity-saver in many ways for parents, these creative art play sets can make the daily bath routine a little more interesting. They can be messy…but the clean up is quick. Our biggest issue is that they never want their creations erased!
Tip for parents: Make clean up time part of the bath games; and take pictures of their creations so that you have a shot at a crayon-free wall in the morning.
Spy Gear Security Scanner
What little kid doesn't need a TSA-style metal detector? While this item will definitely keep them active and investigating, the beeping sound it makes EVERY time it comes near metal could become nerve-racking.
Tip for parents: There are sound and sensitivity levels for the product so max volume isn't required for it to work.
Indoor hockey and baseball (bats and balls indoors)
This all foam set is safe for indoor use and is a great alternative for indoor play during the cold months. But its motorized ball shooter that can be positioned for hockey or baseball aim - complete with plastic bat and hockey stick - may still give parents minor heart attacks.
Tip for parents: Remove all breakables from the living room…and play umpire.
"We Did It!" Dora the Explorer doll
Kids love Dora and her trademark song, "We Did It!," has been ringing in parents ears for years. This doll brings the song to life in an attempt to get girls up and moving along. But it would seem that the doll is having all the fun…as the child passively watches.
Tip for parents: Make sure to "balance" your kid's toy box with characters they love and different types of play that gets them engaged.