Toys are certainly one of the most treasured things of childhood. But, at the same time, they can pose some serious risks and can be hazardous too. As per the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, every year, parents have to rush many kids to the emergency department of the hospital due to toy-related injuries. Choosing safe toys for infants and kids under the age of three is extremely important, as they tend to put everything in their mouth. Let us discuss some of the toy safety tips that help you in choosing safe toys for your kid.
Safety Guidelines to Consider While Shopping Toys for Your Kid
There are certain guidelines that toy manufacturers follow and label the toys as per the age groups. The US CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) regulates and monitors toys and the toys must comply with the CPSC standards. However, it is important for you, as a parent, to supervise your child when he is playing.
- Fabric-made toys should be labeled as flame retardant or flame resistant.
- Stuffed toys and soft toys should be washable.
- Art materials should have the label of nontoxic. Manufacturers use certain chemicals (phthalates or plasticizers) to make the plastic more durable and flexible. You can find cadmium, mercury, lead, arsenic etc in everything from dolls, stuffed animals to action figures and children’s accessories.
- A lead-free paint should be used to cover the painted toys.
- Paints and crayons should have the label of ASTMD-4236 on the packaging. This is suggestive of the evaluation by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Toy Safety Tips
- Be very careful with the older toys and the used toys that are passed on to your kid from family and friends. These toys might hold a sentimental value, but they may not necessarily meet the safety standards and can be hazardous.
- If you are looking for a musical toy like squeak toys, rattles, or other electronic toys, make sure the sound is not too loud. These toys can lead to hearing impairment if your kid holds it directly to her ears.
- Opt for toys that are appropriate for your child’s age. Always read the labels before buying toys. Follow the CPSC guidelines that can help you in buying age appropriate toys for your kid. However, as a parent, you are the best judge for your kid. You need to consider your child’s behavior, habits, and temperament while shopping new toys.
Tips for Buying Toys for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
- Do not buy extremely small toys and opt for toys that are large enough. The length of the toy should be at least 2 inches (6 cm) and the diameter should be 1 inches (3 cm) so that your child cannot swallow it. You can also use a choke tube or a small-parts tester to determine whether the toy is safe or not. If the toy fits inside the tester or tube, then it is too small for your young one.
- The coins, marbles, balls, and games with balls should be big enough i.e. 1.75 inches (4.4 cm) in diameter. These can lodge in the throat and can cause breathing problem.
- Be very careful while giving a battery-operated toy to your kid. Opt for toys with screw-secured battery cases so that your child cannot open them. Batteries and the fluids from the batteries can be extremely risky and can cause choking, chemical burns, and internal bleeding.
- When choosing safe toys for babies and toddlers, ensure that the toy is unbreakable and can hold itself against chewing. Make sure the toy does not have any sharp ends or tiny parts like buttons, eyes, wheels etc. Your child may pull these parts and put in the mouth. Ensure that the toy does not have strings that are longer than 7 inches (18 cm.) or parts that could hurt the small fingers of your baby.
- Be very careful while buying stuffed toys from fairs, carnivals. These toys are not necessarily mean to meet safety standards.
- There are toys that often use small magnets, which may fall out of the toy, and your child may swallow it. In rare cases, if your child swallows two or more than two magnets or a metal object, they can attract to each other through the intestinal walls. This can cause twisting or pinching of intestines leading to blockages, infections etc.
- You need to be very cautious with the balloons. They may appear to be safe and can make your kid bounce around, but the latex balloons are one of the main causes of toy-related choking accidents in children.
It is your responsibility, as a parent, to ensure the safety of your kid. While it is comparatively easier to select safe toys for preschoolers, choosing safe toys for infants and toddlers is quite difficult. Nowadays, parents are giving more preference to buying organic toys. The organic toys, however, come a bit pricey, but the price is worth it as safety of your baby should be the only priority for you.