If your home is like most with young children, there are toys everywhere! Toys are an essential part of childhood development and help keep kids happy and busy, but staying away from dangerous toys can be tricky at times.
Here are some tips to keep everything safe and fun, no matter the age:
1. Start with safe toy storage
There are lots of nifty child-friendly containers for toys these days. Lightweight lids or a lid that slides are the safest options for little fingers. No lid at all works also! If the lid opens with hinges, the hinges should be secure enough to prevent it from slamming shut. Latches can be dangerous in case a child gets stuck inside, so best to avoid these. Rounded edges are another plus, so that falls are less risky.
2. Avoid small objects.
Especially for small children, toys should be larger than their mouths so it is impossible for them to choke on or swallow the toy.
3. Choose sturdy materials.
Cloth toys and wooden toys, though expensive, are great choices. Plastic toys are fine too, just make sure the plastic isn’t so thin that it will break easily, especially if your child puts toys in their mouth. When toys break they can often end up with sharp edges or small parts that can become a choking hazard.
4. Avoid toxic materials (especially for old toys).
This is especially true for infants and toddlers. Older painted metal toys can contain lead and should be avoided. Check the labels of toys, most will be labeled “non-toxic” which is safest.
5. No marbles, coins, magnets or batteries.
Avoid marbles, coins, magnets, and batteries– these are all very hazardous for little kids. Coins and marbles are dangerous toys and high risk for choking or aspiration. Batteries need to be safely contained, and magnets should never be allowed. Both can be very dangerous in the intestinal or respiratory tracts. And if you think there is a chance your child has swallowed either a magnet or battery, you should seek medical care immediately!
6. Check the recommended age on the box.
These ratings are a good guideline to follow for age-appropriateness. These guidelines help ensure the toys are developmentally appropriate as well.
7. Periodically look over toys to make sure they’re still safe.
Stuff happens, and toys will get old and break. Check wooden toys for splinters, and all toys for sharp edges, broken parts, rust, busted seams, mold, etc. Toys with identified safety hazards should be removed from the play area until fixed or discarded.
8. Remember to watch out for non-toys, too!
Matches, lighters, forks, long string, scissors, cleaning supplies and many more household items can be hazardous to little ones, so it’s best if they are kept out of the play area and out of reach.
9. Report unsafe toys.
This helps other parents and supports recalls for hazardous items. Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website for the latest information about toy recalls or call their hotline at (800) 638-CPSC to report a toy you think is unsafe.
10. Outdoor toys
Helmets should be worn at all times on bicycles, skateboards, scooters, skates, etc. Pools should be fenced and children should be monitored at all times while swimming. Trampolines have a very high incidence of injuries, especially in younger children, so recreational trampoline use is discouraged by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). If they must be used, only one child should jump at a time, flips should be discouraged, springs should be covered, and there should be vigilant adult supervision at all times.