Unwrap the gift of toy safety
December 12, 2011
When you shop for children this holiday season, make sure the toys you bring home are safe.
Toy-related injuries send tens of thousands of children to the emergency department each year. Most injuries occur when parents give their children toys meant for older children. Although many toy makers follow safety guidelines for their products, some don't. Your challenge is to make sure the toys your children play with are safe.
These suggestions can help you ensure your children don't get hurt while playing with toys.
Beware of small parts
Don't give toys with small parts to toddlers. Very young children tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking.
Watch for magnets
Many toys contain small magnets. If the magnets detach from the toys, children can swallow them. If more than one magnet is swallowed — or, if a magnet and a metal object are swallowed — the pieces can attract each other and cause intestinal perforations or blockages, which can be fatal.
Make sure your child's toys are suitable for his or her age, abilities, skills and interest level. Toys that are too advanced can pose safety hazards.
Look for standards
Look for the letters ASTM, which indicate a product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Is it noisy?
Avoid toys that make a loud or shrill noise to avoid serious ear injury.
Choose well-made stuffed animals
The eyes, noses and other small parts of stuffed animals should be securely fastened.
Never let children younger than 12 play with hobby kits, such as chemistry sets. Provide proper supervision when older children play with such toys.
Watch the action
Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off. Slingshots and high-powered water guns can injure targeted children. BB guns shouldn't be considered toys.
Avoid toys with electric heating elements.
Inspect toys for solid construction
They should be made of durable materials, have no sharp edges or points and be able to withstand impact.
Read instructions carefully and follow suggested age levels. Age labeling is provided for developmental and safety reasons.
Show and tell
Explain and demonstrate how to use toys.
Repair or discard damaged toys.
Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger ones.
How do they play?
Don't let children play with toys in dangerous ways.
Discard wrappings immediately. Sharp staples and plastic bags can cause injuries and pose safety hazards.
Make a list of safety rules and share them with your children. If your kids are playing with friends, remind everyone of your safety rules.
Toy Safety Information from Childrens.com