Toys are an essential part of childhood, as they help children to develop important skills and provide a source of entertainment. However, it is important to remember that not all toys are safe for children. In fact, every year, thousands of children are injured by toys.
To prevent these injuries, it is crucial to follow safety guidelines when selecting, using, and storing toys. These guidelines help to ensure that kids can enjoy their toys without putting their health and well-being at risk.
In this article, we will explore some of the most important safety guidelines for toys, and provide tips for parents, caregivers, and educators to keep young kids safe while playing.
When choosing a toy for a young child, it is important to consider the age appropriateness of the toy and make you choose one for your child’s age. Toys should be age-appropriate for a child’s cognitive, social and physical skills. Try to align toys with your child’s development, abilities and interests.
The right toys for older kids include starter chemistry sets. and beginner hobby kits like circuit builders and beginner robot kits to teach basic electronics and programming skills. Board games like chess or checkers provide entertainment while helping develop problem-solving and strategic planning skills. And if the toy makes sounds, make sure it is suitable for your child’s hearing abilities.
Don’t buy toys that are too advanced for your child. For example, magnet toys can come off or break easily and if your small child swallows them, it can be extremely dangerous. Similarly, avoid toys that shoot objects in the sky.
Toys sold in the United States must meet safety regulations set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). But even if a toy is deemed safe, it may not be age-appropriate. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers guidelines for appropriate toy selection for kids of all ages.
When it comes to purchasing toys for kids, safety is a top priority. Let’s take a look at the safety standards that have been set forth.
Ensure the toy is certified by a safety standard organization
It is essential to make sure the toy you are purchasing meets the required safety standards to ensure the safety of the child playing with that toy. Look for toy labels, such as ASTM (American Society of Testing and Materials) F963, that meet or exceed current US safety standards. A good example to this is to look for “UL approved” on electric toys.
Always check official websites of regulatory bodies for an updated list of recalled toys and current toy guidelines.
Check for small toy parts that could be a choking hazard
When selecting a toy for a child, it is important to make sure that it has been manufactured with safety in mind. Small toy parts that could be a choking hazard should never be included in toys designed for kids 3 years of age and younger.
Toys with strings, ropes or dangling cords such those found in many crib gyms can tangle around your child’s neck so avoid these for children under age of 3.
Regularly inspect battery-operated toys for any exposed wires or loose connections that can cause an electric shock. Young children should never be allowed to access to small batteries of electric toys directly, as it can lead to an electric shock if they touch two terminals simultaneously.
Additionally, the battery compartment should be secure and checked for signs of corrosion before reassembling the cover to prevent damage caused by short circuits.
When buying toys for kids, it is important to look at the materials used to make them. Different materials can have different safety implications; this is especially critical with many toys that contain components that are small enough to be swallowed.
Careful inspection is necessary to make sure these materials are safe and appropriate for children of any age.
Avoid toys made from toxic materials
Parents should always monitor the materials their children’s toys are made of. Don’t choose toys that contain toxic materials, such as PVC (polyvinyl chloride), lead, melamine, bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates and nitrosamines that may affect child health.
If your looking for art materials and supplies, make sure to look for the designation “ASTM D-4236.” Likewise, check toys if they were painted with lead-free paint.
Check for sharp edges or small toy parts that could be a choking hazard
Check to see if there are any sharp edges or small toy parts that could be a choking hazards for younger children and to avoid any toy-related injuries. Toys with small parts or pointed edges — like beads, buttons, and eyes in stuffed animals — should have no sharp points or edges on them. There should also be no rough surfaces that could scrape skin. Remember that most of these toys will end up in your child’s mouth.
Use a small parts tester such as a choke tube to determine if a particular toy poses a serious choking risk. Choking can cause a serious injury, maybe even death.
Maintenance should be a part of any safety plan for toys. This includes regular checks for wear and tear, proper storage and disposal of toys, and disposal of broken toys. It is important to keep toys clean and away from children who may swallow small parts.
Being aware of the manufacturer’s guidelines for the toy and following labels and product guidelines are also important when it comes to toy safety.
Here are additional care tips for your child’s toys:
Inspect toys for damages
Regularly inspect the toy for any signs of damage. Even if a toy appears to be in perfect condition, it’s always wise to take a few moments and verify the condition of its parts and safety features.
Look over the surfaces of the toy – both inside and out – for tears, cracks, scratches or other imperfections. For example, check your child’s outdoor toys such as riding toys for rust. Make sure that none of the small pieces are missing, that it runs smoothly and operates properly when used.
In the case of stuffed toys, they shouldn’t have any exposed parts or broken seams. Likewise, wooden toys shouldn’t have cracks or splinters.
Clean your toys regularly
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance. Some plastic toys are dishwasher-safe so you can chuck them straight to your dishwasher.
Once your child is done playing, store toys in containers or toy chest, separating large toys from small objects.