Toy Safety is a huge concern for any parent or care-giver. We want our children to have fun, learn and explore but all in a manner that is safe. After meeting with the informative people of the toy association, I decided to share all that I learned about toy safety. It was a good refresher as the holidays are rolling around and it’s pertinent information for parents and gift-givers alike.
Thank you to Joan Lawrence, vice-president of standards and government affairs at the Toy Industry Association for these tips to help you buy the best toys this holiday season.
- Be aware of the age label-for starters, the label helps guide us as to the developmental skills necessary for the toy and the age level in which the parts of the toy are safest. Another important reason to heed the age label recommendation is to avoid the toy being used in a manner other than it was intended.
- Think about the characteristics of the toy-does it match my child’s abilities? likes? If not, your child may be bored with it and decide to find other inappropriate ways to use it, can you say, ”flying barbie”?
- Beware of small parts for any child under three or for those whom mouthing is an issue. HINT: if a toy can fit through a toilet paper tube with ease, it is too small for under three. (small parts- includingparts that can detach, break off and then pose a choking hazard)
- Read directions for both assembly and how to use toys properly. Keep all manuals and guides in a safe spot. (We have a clear organizer just for the kids’ ones.) Product registration can help keep you aware of product recalls and guarantees.
- Supervise Play- a new toy can be loads of fun, but can also be a potential hazard if a child is not shown how to use a toy (just give them a nudge, and then let their imagination take it from there), “Play like a kid”. Remind care-care-givers, grandparents, etc. to do the same.
- Discard packaging-we have all spent many hours trying to pry toys from plastic cartons (uh!!!) twist ties, and taped up cardboard. These can all be risky to a small child, clear the playing area-recycle what you can, and toss the rest.
- Check toys regularly. Check for wear and tear, and broken or missing pieces. Also, remove batteries if the toy is no longer in use OR if they have expired. Leaky batteries pose a serious health risk.
- Enlist “helpers”-A big problem arises when you have more than one child and toys that are safe for one, may not be for another. Ask older children to be on the look-out for small parts, toys, involve them in keeping little ones safe. YOU must be vigilant though, this is not to suggest that your children should shoulder the burden of the safety of their sibling!!
- Denote safe play areas-we have certain “table top” toys. This helps keep small parts off of the floor and gives older children a chance to explore and play at their own pace.
- Excercise caution with vintage or second hand toys. I am a huge recycler, but need to make sure the toys I give the children comply with today’s safety standards. (Lead contamination/poisoning is my MAIN concern with vintage toys. A great source is Tamara Rubin, see her website, My Children Have Lead Poisoning)