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Safe toys & great gift ideas for young kids

Thursday, December 3, 2015

That toy or game you’re considering for your child or grandchild may seem like a lot of fun but actually be unsafe for their age or their younger siblings. If a toy is dangerous or used in the wrong way it can cause serious injury.

Baby with toys
It can be hard to tell if a toy will be a safe gift or not. The good news? Here are a few guidelines to consider as you shop for fun and safe toys.

Tips for buying safe toys

The American Academy of Pediatrics has the following 10 tips to help you choose safe and appropriate toys for your child.
  1. Read the label. Warning labels give important information about how to use a toy and what ages the toy is safe for. Be sure to show your child how to use the toy the right way.
  2. Think LARGE. Make sure all toys and parts are larger than your child’s mouth to prevent choking.
  3. Avoid toys that shoot objects into the air. They can cause serious eye injuries or choking.
  4. Avoid toys that are loud to prevent damage to your child’s hearing.
  5. Look for stuffed toys that are well made. Make sure all the parts are on tight and seams and edges are secure. It should also be machine washable. Take off any loose ribbons or strings to avoid strangulation. Avoid toys that have small bean-like pellets or stuffing that can cause choking or suffocation if swallowed.
  6. Buy plastic toys that are sturdy. Toys made from thin plastic may break easily.
  7. Avoid toys with toxic materials that could cause poisoning. Make sure the label says “nontoxic.”
  8. Avoid hobby kits and chemistry sets for any child younger than 12 years. They can cause fires or explosions and may contain dangerous chemicals. Make sure your older child knows how to safely handle these kinds of toys.
  9. Electric toys should be “UL Approved.” Check the label to be sure.
  10. Be careful when buying crib toys. Strings or wires that hang in a crib should be kept short to avoid strangulation. Crib toys should be removed as soon as your child can push up on his hands and knees.
Boy playing with trainset

Buy for the appropriate age

Age guidelines on toys are a good way to see if a toy is safe gift. For example, a toy that is labeled appropriate for ages 8-10 could be a choking hazard for a toddler. The age guidelines will also indicate how difficult or complicated a toy is to play with. A toy designed for a 6 year old is likely to be difficult for a 3 year old to play with in a safe, correct manner. Pay attention to age labels and you’ll be taking one big step towards buying a safe, fun gift!

A note about toy recalls

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are all agencies focused on recalling toys or children’s products that have been deemed unsafe. Safe Kids is a website that publishes monthly lists of safety recalls from these agencies as well news or consumer concerns about children’s products. Remember that safety recalls don’t expire, so check the Safe Kids product recalls pages regularly, especially if you receive hand-me-downs or buy children’s products at a secondhand shop or yard sale.

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Baby girl with pony tail in white