- CHECK THE LABEL
Look for the age range and any safety warnings. When buying toys for children under the age of 3, check for a small parts warning. This is especially important because toddlers tend to put everything in their mouths.
- CHECK THE TOY
Look for points, sharp edges, or dangerous projectiles. Some toys that make loud noises can damage hearing. Make sure stuffed animals and dolls are well made. Check for any small decorations that could come off and create a choking hazard.
- CHECK FOR SMALL PARTS
Because they can choke a toddler, small parts are banned from toys for children under the age of 3. But it's a good idea to check the toy anyway. How small is too small? Safety experts say you can check your toys with a toilet paper roll tube. If the toy fits in the tube, it could cause a problem.
- CONSIDER THE ENTIRE FAMILY
A toy that's fun for a 10-year-old may be unsuitable, even lethal, to a younger brother or sister. For instance, balloons should never be given to children under the age of 8. A balloon doesn't seem dangerous, but uninflated balloons and pieces of broken balloons are serious choking risks. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more children have been suffocated with balloons than with any other type of toy.
- REMOVE ALL PACKING MATERIAL
This should be done right away. Plastic bags, foam pellets, string and staples can be dangerous to very small children.
- STORE TOYS PROPERLY
Keep toys intended for older children in a place where the younger ones can't get them. And teach your kids to put away their toys when they're done playing. This will prevent accidental trips and falls.
- INSPECT TOYS REGULARLY
Every few months check your kid's toys for broken parts, sharp points, and jagged edges. Repair or discard anything that's broken right away.
- SUPERVISE YOUR KIDS
Make sure to show your children how to safely use a toy. And remind any care-givers about the importance of safe play. Remember: some toys for older kids, like chemistry sets or electric trains, need close adult supervision.
For more information on toy safety, you can contact these organizations:
Toy Safety Hotline: 877-486-9723
Or on the Web at www.toy-tma.org.
The toll-free info line is run by the Toy Manufacturers of America.
Toy Resource Helpline: 800-366-7529
Experts at this organization can recommend toys for children with disabilities.
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