Choosing Safe Toys
There are many reasons why you should take great precaution when buying new toys for your child. As many as 150,000 children are admitted to the ER annually because of toys, whether it’s because of physical injury, poisoning or other less common reasons. It also goes without saying that children are curious and may not exactly use a toy for its given purpose, so even if the materials seem harmless, a child can find a way to hurt themselves with it. For example, children have a habit of biting or chewing things which may not be toys.
Fortunately, you can use the instruction manual as a learning tool, and not just as an enforcer of rules.
Young children’s toys often have an educational quality to them; teaching them about what to do and what not to do can be both a life-saving and empowering experience.
Inspect Toys Often
There are many reasons why you should take great precaution and inspect the toys your children are playing with. With as many as 150,000 children being admitted to hospitals each year as a result of toys, an important responsibility a parent has is to inspect their children’s toys for things like broken pieces, missing pieces, sharp edges and so on.
There are some things that parents should consider and be aware of when inspecting and initially buying toys. Fisher Price summarizes a number of problems that are often overlooked. Make sure that the toys are not too loud, and that if they are electronic, they do not have any open parts that can electrocute the child. Battery-powered items are much safer than cord-powered toys.
There are a number of national and international symbols employed by toy manufacturers that confirm the safety of a toy. Government inspections will check for harmful parts and dangers, and they will thereby reward the toy makers will particular crests. In the United States, look for the ‘CE’ symbol on the box, and if the toy comes from the UK, the face of a lion within a triangle is confirmation of government approval. Any product that does not contain these may have not received government approval and thus can be considered threatening to the safety of your children.
Purchase Approved Toys
In recent years, the rise in toy-related recalls has risen significantly because of fears of chemical contamination and harmful pieces of material. While there had been regulations imposed by the federal government, they were duly enforced and were at best voluntarily exercised. Since the US Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, many efforts have been made to raise awareness to the dangers of harmful toys. There are many efforts being put in place at the moment to ensure that the toys are toxin-free but there are still many things that a consumer can do to confirm the safety of a child’s toy.
Toy Safety Checklist
There are several things you should be checking on a toy to make sure it is in fact safe. Fisher Price, one of the world’s largest toy manufacturers, has a detailed checklist of elements worth taking note of.
First, you must evaluate the quality of the materials. Are there any edges, glass parts, or sharp points on the toy? Furthermore, are there any parts at all that can fit in the mouth, ear or nose of a child?
There are other seemingly harmless items that can have surprisingly adverse effects. Cords, ribbons, ropes and strings can potentially strangle children, so it is best that you remove these from the toy. Also, items like stuffed animals can contain pebbles or beans that a child can choke on. Plush stuffed animals are almost always better.
Check also for toxins or lead paint. This may not be as easy, but the internet has many resources that you can use to check if particular toys are safe or not. Avoid manufacturers with shady histories if you can, and make sure websites explicitly states that their products have no lead paint.
Finally, be very careful when buying toys at garage sales. Many of these were likely made before any regulation was imposed, so they may have dangerous toxins or harmful parts on them.