When you give a child a toy as a gift, the toy story you want to hear is how much the child enjoys playing with it — not how it sent Junior to the ER. Careful toy selection is important for happy and healthy gift-giving. Here are some tips to shop with safety in mind.
Consider ages of the whole family.
Age labels on toys are determined by safety factors. Small pieces are a choking hazard for children under age 3, so give extra thought to games or toy sets that you choose for older siblings if there’s a toddler or baby in the family. Consider family pets, too.
Check the material.
Fabric toys should be washable and flame retardant/flame resistant. Stuffed toys and dolls should also be well-constructed with no removable eyes, noses or other small parts that could cause choking. Crayons and paints should be nontoxic.
Look out for movement.
Flying and propelled toys can pose a danger, especially to the eyes. Make sure darts for children have soft tips such as cork or suction cups to prevent injury. Gifts of bikes, scooters, skateboards, roller skates, etc., should include a helmet.
Choose new over used.
A used toy may seem more economical or have sentimental value if it’s from your own childhood, but it may be worn from play and break easier, or it may not meet today’s safety standards.
Beware of balloons.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more children have suffocated on uninflated balloons or pieces of broken balloons than on any other type of toy.
Mind the magnets.
Avoid toys with magnets and keep refrigerator magnets away from young children. If swallowed, magnets can cause serious damage to the intestines.
Sources: Consumer Product Safety Commission, cpsc.gov, and The Nemours Foundation, kidshealth.org.