Safe Toys for your child
| Posted On Nov 19, 2012 | By: Harvard Vanguard
The holiday season is just beginning, and kids are starting to make their wish lists for the toys they want. For anyone who has seen A Christmas Story, Ralphie’s desire for a Red Rider BB gun and the response of, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” is funny, but for real life, it’s also a great reminder that the toy your child wants may not always be the safest choice. Before you head out to the stores or begin searching online, it’s important to make sure the toys you’re selecting are safe and age-appropriate for your child.
Here are some tips on how to buy safe toys during this holiday season and throughout the year:
- Read the label. Warning labels give important information about how to use a toy and what ages the toy is safe for. Be sure to show your child how to use the toy the right way.
- Think LARGE. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), choking is the most common cause of toy-related deaths. Make sure all toys and parts are larger than your child’s mouth to prevent choking. A good rule of thumb is if a toy or part of a toy can pass through a toilet paper tube, don’t buy it for a child under age 3, or any child who still puts things in his/her mouth.
- Avoid toys that shoot objects into the air. They can cause serious eye injuries or choking.
- Avoid toys that are loud. Children’s ears are sensitive. If a toy seems too loud for your ears, it is probably too loud for a child.
- Look for stuffed toys that are well made. Make sure all the parts are on tight and seams and edges are secure. It should also be machine washable. Take off any loose ribbons or strings to avoid strangulation. Avoid toys that have small bean-like pellets or stuffing that can cause choking or suffocation if swallowed.
- Avoid toys with toxic materials that could cause poisoning. Make sure the label says “nontoxic.” Avoid toys that include lead or other toxic chemicals, including phthalates. While most lead and phthalates have been phased out of toys beginning in 2009, older toys may still contain them. Choose unpainted wooden or cloth toys when possible. Make sure to read the labels of play cosmetics and avoid products with xylene, toluene, or dibutyl phthalate.
- Avoid hobby kits and chemistry sets for any child younger than 12 years. They can cause fires or explosions and may contain dangerous chemicals. Regardless of age, always make sure your child is supervised and knows how to safely handle these kinds of toys.
- Electric toys should be “UL Approved.” UL approved means that electrical devices are tested and passed by UL, or Underwriters Laboratories, a testing lab for all electrical devices in the United States.
- Be careful when buying crib toys. Strings or wires that hang in a crib should be kept short to avoid strangulation. Crib toys should be removed as soon as your child can push up on his hands and knees.
- Never give young children small balls or balloons. Small balls, balloons and pieces of broken balloons are particularly dangerous, as they can completely block a child’s airway. Balls for children under 6 years old must be more than 1.75 inches in diameter. Never give latex balls to children younger than 8 years old.
Here are some websites to visit to research toy safety and recalls:
Access shopping tips and list of recalled toys on your smartphone:
Toy safety website – United States Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG)
Recalls and reports:
Toy and Product Recall Finder from Parents.com/Parenting Magazine
Sign up for Safety News and Recall Emails on the US Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website