Children can have a lot of fun playing with their toys. However, it’s important to keep in mind that safety should always come first. Each year thousands of children are injured by toys.
Read on to learn what to look for when buying toys and how a few simple ideas for safe use can often prevent injuries.
Preventing Injuries from Toys:
Most injuries from toys are minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises. However, toys can cause serious injury or even death. This happens when toys are dangerous or used in the wrong way.
10 Toy Buying Tips:
Here are tips to help you choose safe and appropriate toys for your child.
- Read the label. Warning labels give important information about how to use a toy and what ages the toy is safe for. Be sure to show your child how to use the toy the right way.
- Think LARGE. Make sure all toys and parts are larger than your child’s mouth to prevent choking.
- Avoid toys that shoot objects into the air. They can cause serious eye injuries or choking.
- Avoid toys that are loud to prevent damage to your child’s hearing. See 10 Tips to Preserve Your Child’s Hearing during the Holidays.
- Look for stuffed toys that are well made. Make sure all the parts are on tight and seams and edges are secure. It should also be machine washable. Take off any loose ribbons or strings to avoid strangulation. Avoid toys that have small bean-like pellets or stuffing that can cause choking or suffocation if swallowed.
- Buy plastic toys that are sturdy. Toys made from thin plastic may break easily.
- Avoid toys with toxic materials that could cause poisoning. Make sure the label says “nontoxic.”
- Avoid hobby kits and chemistry sets for any child younger than 12 years. They can cause fires or explosions and may contain dangerous chemicals. Make sure your older child knows how to safely handle these kinds of toys.
- Electric toys should be “UL Approved.” Check the label to be sure.
- Be careful when buying crib toys. Soft objects, loose bedding, or any objects that could increase the risk of entrapment, suffocation, or strangulation should be kept out of the crib. Any hanging crib toy (mobiles, crib gyms) should be out of the baby’s reach and must be removed when your baby first begins to push up on his or her hands and knees or when the baby is 5 months old, whichever occurs first. These toys can strangle a baby. See Reduce the Risk of SIDS & Suffocation.
Choosing the Right Toys for the Right Age:
Age recommendations on toys can be helpful, because they offer guidelines on the following:
- The safety of the toy (for example, if there any possible choking hazards)
- The ability of a child to play with the toy
- The ability of a child to understand how to use a toy
- The needs and interests at various levels of a child’s development
Important Information About Recalled Toys:
One of the goals of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is to protect consumers and families from dangerous toys. It sets up rules and guidelines to ensure products are safe and issues recalls of products if a problem is found. Toys are recalled for various reasons including unsafe lead levels, choking or fire hazards, or other problems that make them dangerous. Toys that are recalled should be removed right away. If you think your child has been exposed to a toy containing lead, ask your child’s doctor about testing for elevated blood lead levels. See Blood Lead Levels: What Parents Need to Know.
Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org:
- Dangers of Magnetic Toys and Fake Piercings
- Button Battery Injuries in Children: A Growing Risk
- The Secret to a Smarter Baby
- 10 No-Cost, Screen-Free Activities to Play with Your Preschooler
- Amber Teething Necklaces: A Caution for Parents
Source Adapted from A Parent’s Guide to Toy Safety (Copyright © 2008 American Academy of Pediatrics)