With a dizzying number of toys to choose from, how can you be sure to get safe toys for your children this Christmas?
There are zillions of stores and shops where you can buy toys, but before you do, remember to consider age range and safety. Injuries and accidents can result from giving a child an unsafe toy, or one that is not age-appropriate.
Here are some tips for selecting the best toys for your little ones, while keeping in mind their ages and abilities.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT TOY
- Do not get seduced by what you like most. Will your child be interested in the toy? Is it age-appropriate? Does he have the motor skills or patience to use it?
- Look for quality design and construction in a toy. It’s better to pay a little more for one good quality toy than to buy five cheaper, potentially hazardous ones.
- Check labels. Make sure all directions and instructions are clear and understandable. Check whether the toy is recommended for your child’s age group (this is especially true with babies and children under 3 years old).
- Toys containing small parts, small balls or marbles are not appropriate for children under 3 years, and some may not be suitable for children up to 8 years old, as they are choking hazards (and you can see this warning in their labels).
- Watch out for sharp edges and points. Toys for children under 8 years of age should be free of sharp glass or metal edges and dangerous points or prongs.
- According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) any latex balloon, contained in a toy or by itself, can be a choking hazard for children under 8 years old. They can choke or suffocate on the uninflated or broken balloons. Adult supervision is always recommended. You must keep uninflated and torn balloons away from your children.
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- Be very careful with electrical toys. Don’t buy one for a very young child and when buying for an older child, read the safety guidelines on the package carefully.You must take into account your child’s abilities, even if he is in the age range for the toy. Not every child has the same abilities at the same age. Supervise the use of the toy and teach your child to disconnect it when he’s done playing.
- If you allow your children to play with toy guns, be careful with those containing caps, because friction can ignite them and cause burns or other injuries. Supervise all playtime with these toys.
- High-velocity BB or pellet guns should not be given to children under 16. They can cause injury, blindness and even death. Also consider that toy caps and some noise-making guns and toys could produce noise levels that can damage hearing in young children.
- Look carefully for labels that state “Flame retardant/Flame resistant”—they are a MUST for your child’s safety.
- Watch out when it comes to strings and straps in toys. The CPSC warns about these dangers—like toy guitar straps—that can strangle a young child if they become twisted around his neck. Also avoid toys containing necklaces, cords, or ribbons for kids under 3 yrs and even to 8 years old.
- Remove all plastic packaging, film and coverings, as children can choke or suffocate with them.
For more information about age-appropriate toys, read: Which Toy for Which Child (Ages 0-5) and Which Toy for Which Child (Ages 6-12).