Toys are sure fun but giving an unsuitable toy to a kid who barely understands the concept of danger is stupid. Before you buy any toy for a baby, you should always make sure that it won’t cause a choking hazard or physical injury. Failing to comply with toy safety guidelines can have unimaginable consequences.
In addition, it’s important to make sure you are choosing a toy that matches your child’s developmental age and stage, for more on this, check out our post all about Types of Toys for Different Age Groups.
Can you believe that nearly 251,700 children have to be taken to emergency rooms due to toy-related injuries every year? Most of these injuries are caused by riding toys like tricycles.
Without proper parental supervision, your kids could hurt their face and head badly. Then there is a huge risk of choking for kids below 3 years. Giving them small toys to play with at this age is a huge no-no.
I dug deeper to check out the more latest stats on toy-related injuries to get a better idea. Here a few excerpts:
- Non-motorized scooters are responsible for 21%-22% toy-related injuries of kids between 12-15 years.
- 58% of toy-related injury victims were male in 2017.
- 13 toy-related deaths of kids below 15 years occurred in 2017.
- Tricycle, non-motorized scooters, balls, stuffed toys, battery ingestion have been reported as the common causes of toy-related deaths and injuries.
These stats are heart-breaking. I cannot even imagine the horror of bringing my son to the emergency room. I am telling you these horrific statistics just to make you aware of the reality.
This does not mean you will have to ban toys for a lifetime. As long as you follow the age-specific guidelines before buying toys and closely supervise the playtime, there’s nothing to panic about.
Toy Guidelines by CPSC to Remember by Heart
Before you shop for toys, learn the toy safety guidelines issued by the U.S Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Note that these safety guidelines apply to children of all ages. In the following sections, I will elaborate on age-specific safety guidelines to help you choose the right toys for newborns, toddlers, and school-age kids, respectively.
First things first, here is a brief summary of the general toy safety tips you should be aware of:
- Buy toys only from reputed brands. Make sure the toys you are buying have CE symbol on them. Any toy that doesn’t have this symbol is not meant to be used as toys.
- Look for “ASTM D-4236” on the package of crayons and paints. This code implies that the product meets the safety standard of the American Society for Testing and Materials.
- The paint on the toys must be lead-free and the body parts have to be made from non-toxic materials.
- Stuffed toys should be washable.
- Always check the age-range on the label of the toy. Age level is decided by the safety factors, not intelligence.
- Never let younger children fiddle with older children toys, especially the kids below 3 years. Children younger than 3 years tend to put everything in their mouth, thus, are at the highest risk of choking hazard.
- Always read the warnings and user guide thoroughly on the toy package.
- If your kid’s toys run on small/button batteries, never leave the batteries lying around. Children below 3 years can ingest the batteries, resulting in serious choking danger. Also, monitor the play closely.
- Thoroughly check out the build quality of slides and swings to avoid strangulation risks.
Red Flags to Look for:
Just to be safer, avoid toys that are:
- Old and worn out. Broken or severely damaged toys might have exposed sharp edges that can potentially injure your kids. If your kid loves a particular toy, repair it properly.
- Also, try to steer clear of older toys that have been handed down to you by family. I can completely understand the emotional value but we are talking about your kid’s safety here. Nothing comes before that.
- Avoid toys with small, detachable components.
- Do not buy toys loose ribbons, hair, cords, strings or pile fabric for children below 5 years.
- Do you know those snacks that come with free, small toys inside the package? Kindly keep that away from small kids.
- Avoid electronic toys that produce loud sounds.
Choosing the right toy is only half the job done. To ensure complete safety, teach your kids to safely put away their toys after playing.
A Simple Guide to Choosing Age-appropriate Toys
Here are a few age-specific guidelines you should remember before purchasing toys for newborn babies and toddlers:
- Make sure the toys you are buying are sturdy and cannot be broken or chewed easily.
- Before putting your child on a riding toy such as ride-ons, tricycle, walker, three-wheeled scooters, or toddler wagon, make sure it has straps and comfy seats along with sturdy wheels to prevent tipping.
- The toys should be large enough so that your child is unable to swallow it. Look for toys that are at least 3 centimeters in diameter and 6 centimeters in length.
- While buying battery-operated toys, make sure that the battery case is secured with screws so that your kids can’t easily jimmy the casing.
- Be extra careful with the toys given away by a vending machine or sold at carnivals.
While buying toys for school-age kids (above 5 years), the basic safety guidelines to remember are:
- No pellet rifles or BB guns for children below 16 years.
- If you are purchasing a dart board, make sure the darts have soft tips, instead of sharp, pointy ends.
- The bikes, scooters or skateboards must meet the CPSC safety standards. Teach your kids to use safety gears like helmets, shin guards and wrist guards before riding.
- All electronics toys should have the UL label.
For maximum safety, I’d urge all parents to use a small part tester to determine the right toy size for your baby. After all, there’s no such thing as too much protection. Toy safety is important because we love our kids and we would do anything to keep them safe.
And hey! Buying a safe toy isn’t as difficult as it sounds. I have discussed all the guidelines you will ever need to follow before purchasing a toy. Read them carefully, check the manufacturer’s instruction on the toy label and keep an eye on your kids during their playtime- that will do the trick.