Toys are a very important component of childhood and they are nothing to be afraid of. They help children learn, build social skills, as well as entertain them while Mom gets some stuff done. Unfortunately for everyone, some toys can be hazardous because of poor design and manufacturing flaws. So what can Mom’s do to be certain their children are safe from the hazards of shoddy designed and poorly made toys? Luckily, the answer is “lots”; and it all starts when you decide on and select potential toys for your child or someone else’s.
Tip #1: Do Your Research
The scary headlines should have all of us convinced of the importance of staying up-to-date on the latest toy recall notices. Yet we are still hearing about children being hurt or injured by toys that were recalled months or even years earlier. There are plenty of resources to help you ensure that this will never be you or your child.
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website has a toy and children’s product specific area where you can search for current and past releases. The site it utilitarian, but the content is there if you have time to go through it. There is also a new website called www.RecalledToyAlert.com that leverages all the CPSC data, but presents it in a more usable fashion and you can register to get toy recalls in your email.
Tip #2: Keep SAFETY top of mind when you make toy purchase decisions.
“It was on the Toys ‘R US Hot Toy List,” or “My 3-year old threw a tantrum in the toy aisle at Target,” are not good reasons for choosing a toy. Here are some better reasons to consider and purchase a toy for any child in your life:
- The toy is appropriate for the child’s age and level of development.
- I read the labels and packaging.
- I read and understood the instructions for proper assembly, use and supervision.
- The toy does not have small parts or small objects such as coins, magnets, batteries or nails (if child is less than 3 years old).
- The toy is sturdy and well made. It can stand up to being bitten, tugged, sucked, jumped on and thrown around without falling apart.
- The toy has no sharp edges or rough surfaces that could injure a child.
- Paint and fillings are lead-free and non-toxic (if you can’t be sure of this, don’t buy the toy).
Carefully selecting toys is not enough—supervising children as they play and providing them with a safe play area is one of the best ways to protect children from harm. It is always best to explain and demonstrate the correct and safe use of a toy the first time you give it to a child. You should also consider improving the safety of the play area in your home by: