With the holidays coming up, chances are you’ll be buying your child some new toys. If your child has just come of age to play with toys, and you’re unsure of where to start, there are some important safety guidelines you should adhere to when it comes to buying toys.
As much fun as toys are, some can pose serious risks to children if they’re not age appropriate or safely designed. In fact, in 2018, there were an estimated 226,100 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments, and 37 percent of those were children under the age of 5.
We’re sharing 10 guidelines to follow in order to choose safe toys for your children. In addition, be sure to always supervise playtime and check toys regularly for any signs of wear and tear.
P.S. You might want to send this list to grandma and grandpa or any other relatives who might be purchasing toys for your child!
1. Make sure the toy doesn’t have any choking hazards. Avoid miniature items and make sure there aren’t any small removable parts on toys that children could potentially swallow. Choking is especially a hazard for children ages 3 and younger, since they tend to put everything in their mouth.
2. Avoid objects with sharp points. Don’t buy any toys that have sharp points or edges on them. Children could easily poke themselves in the eye with something like that.
3. Make sure fabric toys are flame resistant or flame retardant. You don’t want your child playing with any fabric toy that could easily go up in flames. The same goes for when you’re buying clothing and pajamas for your child.
4. Ensure all batteries are secured. In battery-operated toys, be sure to look for ones that have battery cases secured by screws. If not, a child can easily pry open a battery case and swallow small batteries, ingest toxic materials, or come in contact with battery acid.
5. Check for lead-free paint. Any paint on a toy should be lead-free. Painted toys made before 1978 could have paint that contains lead. Which leads us to our next point…
6. Avoid older toys. As much as Grandma wants to pass down the toys she cherished as a child, hold onto those heirlooms until your child is older (plus, they’ll appreciate them more then, too!). In addition to lead paint, older toys might not adhere to the current safety regulations and guidelines. Keep this in mind when it comes to homemade toys, as well.
7. Purchase only nontoxic art materials. Make sure any art supplies that are purchased are nontoxic. On crayons and paints, look for “ASTM D-4236” on the package, which means that they’ve been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
8. Check noise levels. Toys that rattle, squeak, or make music might be engaging, but their sound level should be checked and adjusted if possible. Some toys’ noises can be as loud as a car honk, which can lead to hearing loss if a child holds it up to their ear.
9. Divide toys by age range. If you have multiple children, you’ll need to separate toys by age. Keep an eye out if older kids are playing with a toy that is hazardous to a younger child. It’s important to make sure your kids are playing with age appropriate toys.
10. Store toys safely. When playtime is over, clean toys and safely store them in a bin without holes or hinges that could catch little fingers. You can also separate toys by age range in separate bins.