As much as we love giving our kids new toys, it’s important to know that many can be dangerous. Thousands of children are injured every year from playing with their toys.
Luckily, there are some simple ways to prevent these injuries. By following these tips, you can help make your child’s toy stash safer.
1. Check the Age Recommendations
If you want to avoid any complications while purchasing toys for your children, you should always check the age recommendations before buying them. You should also be sure that they are not made from harmful materials.
Choosing the right toy for your child can have a positive impact on their cognitive, emotional and motor development. These toys can also encourage exploration, experimentation and creativity.
Babies are often fascinated by cause and effect and will enjoy toys that respond to their actions. This includes toys that name objects as they are pressed or that cause music to play or characters to pop up.
Infants are also interested in textures and movement, so look for toys that provide tactile stimulation such as a ball with a hammer or rattles that shake and move.
Toddlers have a shorter attention span than babies, so it is best to introduce new toys one at a time. This helps avoid boredom and ensures your child will be able to focus on the toy and not on you or another person.
Toy manufacturers follow the CPSC’s age recommendations, but these guidelines don’t always apply to every toy on the market. There are a lot of variables to consider when it comes to toy safety, including the child’s personality, habits and behavior.
2. Check the Material
When choosing toys for children, it is important to choose ones that are made from natural materials. These can include wooden toys, fabric teething toys and stuffed animals.
Toys that are made from plastic, or from vinyl (PVC), often contain toxic chemicals. These chemicals can be harmful to children and may have been linked to asthma, allergies, reproductive problems and cancer.
These chemicals can also be found in plastics that are used for other products such as sippy cups and canned food liners. Toys that are made from PVC should be tested for the presence of BPA, phthalates and lead.
Fortunately, toy safety standards have improved since the 2007 lead toy recall. However, there are still many toxic toys on the market. If you’re on the hunt for a safe and non-toxic blanket, the eden baby blankies might just be what you’re looking for.
Wooden toys, especially those that are made from hardwoods, such as pine or oak, are generally safer for children than plastic toys. This is because they do not splinter easily and are less likely to break. Nevertheless, be sure to check the labels on toys you buy, as well as sign up for recall updates from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
3. Check the Safety Features
Toys are fun, but they can also be dangerous. More than 174,100 children under 15 years of age were treated in emergency departments for toy-related injuries in 2016.
If you’re shopping for toys for your own child or for other family members, it’s important to check the safety features. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) sets guidelines for toy safety and issues recalls when products have been found to be unsafe.
Make sure toys are made of strong, durable materials and don’t contain small parts that could be swallowed or lodged in the windpipe. Avoid toys that use button batteries (which can cause tissue burns), magnets or other small objects that can be a choking hazard for young children.
Be sure battery-operated toys have secure battery cases that can’t be pried open by your child. Button batteries can be swallowed and cause chemical burns in as little as two hours.
Art materials should be marked with a symbol such as “ASTM D-4236” that indicates a toxicologist has checked the materials in compliance with federal toy safety standards. Crayons, paints and other art materials should also be made of non-toxic material and covered in lead-free paint.
4. Check the Noise
When shopping for children, parents may want to consider checking the noise levels of the toys they purchase. Toys that are too loud can be dangerous, especially if children play with them for long periods of time.
According to the Sight & Hearing Association (SHA), some noise-producing toys can cause damage to children’s ears even when played at arm’s length. That’s because the closer a sound is to a child’s ear, the louder it gets.
The Sight & Hearing Association’s study of popular toys found that some were too noisy for children to play with at arm’s length. They also found that some were so loud that they caused damage to a child’s hearing in as little as 15 minutes of use.
SHA recommends choosing toys that are safe at arm’s length and making them a little less loud by removing the batteries or placing clear packing tape over the speaker. If you’re not sure how loud a toy is, download a free decibel-meter app to your smartphone and test it before buying.
5. Check the Weight
Toys that are too heavy for their own good can pose a choking hazard, so be sure to choose safe options. For instance, ride-on vehicles should be rated for the appropriate age group and weight limits should be clear on all packaging.
In addition to being fun, the best toys should be designed to be educational, interactive and durable. LeapFrog’s toy phone is a great example: it features several interactive features, including pretend telephone calls, voicemail messages and songs that teach kids about counting and the concept of phone numbers.
The best way to test out these features is to let your little one try them out for themselves. Start out with small objects — such as a pen or coin — and then gradually move up to heavier items, such as a book, toy or other larger item.
In a pinch, it’s often possible to find something that will impress your child without breaking the bank. Just make sure to buy from reputable suppliers and stores and keep an eye out for a few key safety symbols such as the CE mark, the lion symbol or a certification that states it was tested for safety.
6. Check the Size
When choosing toys for your child, always check the size. This is especially important when it comes to small parts and pieces, which can cause choking. Toys and game parts should be large enough so that they can’t be swallowed or lodged in the windpipe, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
A simple way to make sure a toy is safe is by using a small-parts tester, or choke tube. These tubes are designed to be about the same diameter as a child’s windpipe, and will tell you whether an object fits inside them.
Another way to test for a choking hazard is to look at the shape of the parts and pieces on the toy. Avoid toys with projectiles or items that are shaped like small balls, which can be easily swallowed.
Lastly, make sure that any battery-operated toys have secure battery cases. Children can swallow button batteries, and the battery can then release harmful chemicals into their bloodstream in as little as two hours. Lastly, be sure to discard old batteries safely and recycle them whenever possible. This will help to reduce the risk of chemical burns and choking. It is also a good idea to choose toys that are suited to the physical ability and maturity of your child.
7. Check the Age Recommendations
One of the most important things you can do when choosing toys for children is to check their age recommendations. This will help you to avoid choking hazards and choose the right toys for your child’s stage of development.
Babies under six months need specific toy recommendations to keep them safe from small parts and objects that they can easily swallow, which can result in choking. You can check these guidelines by looking at the labels on a toy’s packaging.
During this time, kids are still developing their fine motor skills and learning about cause and effect relationships, so toys like blocks, large crayons and finger paints are a good choice. They’re also becoming more familiar with their environment, so toys that emit light and sound are a great choice.
As kids approach two years old, they become more interested in socialization and pretend play. Open-ended toys like dolls, trucks and houses encourage these activities and also allow them to develop their imagination and creative thinking.