In 2011, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that hospital emergency rooms across the country treated 262,300 toy-related injuries. And, 74 percent of those injuries were to children under the age of 15. In fact, more than 92,000 were to those under 5 years of age. When choosing your gifts this holiday season, choose safety as a priority.
Kids Health reports; The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors and regulates toys. Any toys made in — or imported into — the United States after 1995 must follow CPSC standards.
Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when shopping for toys:
- Toys made of fabric should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Stuffed toys should be washable.
- Painted toys must use lead-free paint.
- Art materials should say nontoxic.
- Crayons and paints should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, which means that they’ve been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
Steer clear of older toys, even hand-me-downs from friends and family. These might not meet current safety standards.
And make sure a toy isn’t too loud for your child. The noise of some rattles, squeak toys, and musical or electronic toys can be as loud as a car horn — even louder if a child holds it directly to the ears — and can damage hearing.
To keep your child safe, follow these guidelines when choosing toys as reported by babycenter.com.
- Pick age-appropriate toys.Most toys show a “recommended age” sticker, which can be used as a starting point in the selection process. Be realistic about your child’s abilities and maturity level when choosing an age-appropriate toy. Toys that have projectiles, for example, are never suitable for a child under age 4 – and even some 6-year-olds aren’t mature enough to handle them. Likewise, if your 3-year-old still puts everything into her mouth, wait a little longer to give her toys and games with small parts and pieces.
- Choose toys that are well-made.Used toys passed down from older relatives or siblings or bought at yard sales can be worn or frayed, which can sometimes be dangerous. Check all toys – new or used – for buttons, batteries, yarn, ribbons, eyes, beads, and plastic parts that could easily be chewed or snapped off. Make sure a stuffed animal’s tail is securely sewn on and the seams of the body are reinforced. Parts on other toys should be securely attached. Make sure there are no sharp edges and the paint is not peeling.
- Think big.Until your child turns 3, toy parts should be bigger than his mouth to prevent the possibility of choking. To determine whether a toy poses a choking risk, try fitting it through a toilet paper roll. If a toy or part of a toy can fit inside the cylinder, it’s not safe.
- Make sure your child is physically ready for the toy.For example, parents of older kids may buy a bike one size too big so as not to have to buy a new bike the next year. This tactic can lead to serious injury if a child doesn’t have the physical skills to control the bigger bike.
- Skip the balloons.They may be cheerful party decorations and fun to bounce around, but latex balloons are the main cause of toy-related choking fatalities in children. When ingested, uninflated balloons (or pieces of burst balloons) can form a tight seal in a child’s airway and make it impossible to breathe.
- Don’t pick heavy toys.Could your child be harmed if it fell on her? If so, pass.