Protect your baby from choking and other dangers by following these important guidelines every time you shop for a new toy.
The American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that you first consider the basics of toy safety, factors that pose an even greater threat to children than issues recently in the news about toxic toys.
Top 10 Toy Safety Tips
- Avoid toys with sharp points and edges.
- Put toys intended for older kids out of reach of babies andtoddlers.
- Kids love to yank and pull apart toys, so choose sturdy toys that don't have loose, moving parts that can easily come off.
- Buy age-appropriate toys. Read the label, and if it's not recommended for children under a certain age, then don't buy it for your baby.
- Search for toys that are washable or include the words non-toxic on the label, since so many toys end up in baby’s mouth.
- Reduce choking risk by skipping any games that include parts that are smaller than 1.75 inches in diameter for babies and toddlers. A general rule: Any object that can fit into an empty toilet paper roll is a choking hazard and should be out of reach. Toys stuffed with any kind of beans or pellets should be avoided, too, because a baby can choke or suffocate if any of those pellets were to spill out of the toy and end up in your baby’s mouth.
- Stay away from toys with loose string, ribbons, or cords because they can become tangled around your baby's neck.
- Avoid toy guns or other toys that shoot objects. Even the simplest versions that shoot plastic objects can cause eye injuries and present choking hazards.
- Buy electric toys that are UL-approved, and never permit a child to use a toy with a frayed cord because it can result in shocks and burns.
- Beware of toy chests and toy storage containers. They can pinch little fingers and a child can climb in, get trapped, and suffocate.
Another toy safety issue: Avoid crib toys that have ribbons, ropes, cords, wires, or anything else hanging from them that could strangle your baby. As a general rule, remove all toys from your baby's crib when your child is sleeping.
Common-Sense Rules for Toy Safety
The American Academy of Pediatrics reminds parents who are shopping for toys for older children to take the time to read the labels. Also, be sure you and your child know how to use a toy before diving into play. Use common sense, too, by picking toys that are sturdy rather than flimsy, to avoid early breakage.
And, as much as you'd like to see your child follow in Einstein’s footsteps, avoid chemistry sets and other kits that:
- Are not age-appropriate
- Are possibly flammable
- Include dangerous chemicals
These are toxic toys to children who are too young to understand the dangers.
Ultimately, your best bet for safety is to buy new products that are made in the United States. These are regulated and also great for the economy. A double win!