15 Ways to Avoid Potentially Dangerous Toys
When you think about what toys to avoid letting your baby or toddler play with , the rules are quite practical. Use these guidelines, from The Safe Baby: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living, Expanded and Revised.
Avoid toys with sharp edges and points, electrical toys, and toys with heating elements.
Children under 8 years of age should especially not play with these types of toys.
Avoid battery-operated toys.
If you do use toys with batteries (a CD player, for example) make sure the battery compartment has a screw closure.
Avoid propelled toy darts and other projectiles.
They can cause cuts or serious eye injuries.
Avoid toys that are too noisy.
No, this isn’t to protect Mom’s nerves or Dad’s ears. Toys that produce loud noises—such as toy caps, noisemaking guns, or high-volume CD players— can produce sounds at noise levels that can injure a child’s hearing. (In addition to the loud noise, caps can ignite, causing burns.) Check the noise level before you buy the toy. This applies to squeaky toys that infants may hold close to their ears. Any loud toy should have directions for safe use—make sure your child follows them.
Avoid teething toys and other soft plastic toys made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
PVC can leach potentially toxic chemicals known as phthalates. Look for products marked as PVC-free or phthalate-free, or contact the manufacturer.
Avoid small magnets.
Today’s magnets are much more powerful than magnets we used to play with as kids. The serious danger is that if a magnet falls out of a toy, it can be swallowed or inhaled by a child. If more than one magnet is swallowed, they can attract inside the body and cause intestinal perforation, infection or blockage, which can be fatal. Keep small magnets and toys that contain them away from children under age 6.
It may surprise you to learn that balloons lead all other toys in causing childhood death. This concern is not just for babies but for every child under 8 years of age. Certainly you won’t allow your toddler to blow up balloons, and you’ll want to supervise any play with an inflated balloon. When the balloon bursts, immediately discard deflated and broken balloon pieces. Choose Mylar balloons (shiny, metallic) over latex.
Avoid metal jewelry.
Not only can such items pose a choking or strangulation hazard, lead has been found in inexpensive children’s jewelry. In addition, some costume jewelry designed for adults has also been found to contain lead. It is important to make sure children don’t handle or mouth any jewelry.
Avoid small balls.
Round objects are more likely to choke children because they completely block a child’s airway. Make sure balls, marbles and ball-like objects with which your children play measure more than 1.75 inches in diameter.
Avoid no-name products and purchase only from reputable retailers.
Never buy an item without a manufacturer’s name and model number, because it would be impossible to check if the product were recalled. Such products may be found at dollar stores, street fairs, thrifts stores, and vending machines.
Avoid buying second-hand or used toys.
They may have been recalled and deemed to be unsafe.
Remember the 7-inch rule.
Just as you made sure not to hang anything near the baby’s crib with a string or ribbon longer than 7 inches, you should continue to avoid toys with strings longer than 7 inches, which can strangle a small child.
Do not let your baby play with crib toys unsupervised.
Keep your eyes on playtime, especially once he begins to push up on his hands and knees.
Be aware that American parents now have more help in choosing safe toys.
The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) took effect in February 2009. The new law essentially eliminates lead from toys and children’s products. It also prohibits the sale of toys that contain phthalates, toxic chemicals that were once common in children’s toys and child care products. In addition, the law called for more resources and personnel to the Consumer Product Safety Commission for enforcing the new law. Starting in 2010, children’s product manufacturers must test their products and certify that they meet CPSIA standards. In the meantime, products that exceed the lead and phthalate levels set forth in the act can be recalled.
Research better toys.
For information on the safety of specific products, visit www.HealthyToys.org. You’ll find there a Consumer Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Toys. It includes a searchable database of more than 1,500 toys and other children’s products.
Smart toy storage ideas!
1) Everything in the nursery that is meant for the toddler to use should be kept where he can get to it.
2) If you place your toddler’s toys or games in a high place—such as the top of the bookcase—you are inviting him to climb.
3) If you have a shelving unit for toys, keep heavy items on the lowest shelf.
4) Show your child how to put toys away in a safe place, where they won’t fall or be tripped over.
5) Don’t let your infant or toddler have access to an older child’s toys.
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