It’s hard to match the fun and excitement of new toys under the Christmas tree! Keep the fun going by making sure you choose safe toys for holiday gifts.
- Small children, especially those under age three, love to experience new things by putting them in their mouths. Make sure your gift isn’t a choking hazard. First, look for “Choking Hazard” or “Not for children under 3” labels when you shop. If you’re not sure, place the toy into a toilet paper tube. If it’s small enough to pass through, it’s a choking hazard.
- Check for small parts, too. Sewn-on eyes on a teddy bear may come off.
- Watch out for sharp edges or points. Commercially made toys usually meet safety standards, but lovingly homemade wooden toys may need to be saved till kids are older.
- Check labels to be sure that materials used in the toys aren’t toxic. This is one situation in which you might get what you pay for. A high-end wooden train will be electrostatically coated with non-toxic paint so that no paint will come off in baby’s mouth, while a low-end train that looks the same might have been spray painted with ordinary acrylic paint. Find out where the toy was made and whether it has been certified non-toxic.
- Look for strings or parts that function in the same way. A string 7″ or longer can pose a hazard for a young child.
- Handmade and hand-me-down toys are wonderful, but they may not have gone through a safety check. Pay attention to the points above and you can let your kids enjoy toys made just for them.
The list above is important, but the most important safety precaution for kids is this: be with your kids. Small children need supervision when they play, and they like having you there!
For a comprehensive list of monthly child-related recalls collected from the major federal agencies: CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission), FDA, NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), visit http://www.safekids.org/product-recalls