More than 200,000 children go to the emergency room each year with toy-related injuries. Most occur in children younger than age 15.
Follow these tips for choosing safe and appropriate toys for children:
- Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills, and interest level of the intended child.
- Toys too advanced for your child's age and developmental level may pose safety hazards to younger children.
- For infants, toddlers, and all children who still mouth objects, avoid toys with small parts, which could pose a fatal choking hazard. Never give young children small balls or balloons. How small is too small? If a toy or part can fit inside a toilet paper tube, it's too small.
- Look for sturdy construction on plush toys, such as tightly secured eyes, noses, and other potential small parts.
- Avoid toys that have sharp edges and points, especially for children under age 8.
- Avoid toys with strings, straps, or cords longer than seven inches. They could wrap around a child's neck.
- Do not purchase electric toys with heating elements for children under age 8.
- Check toys that make loud noises, which may damage young ears. If it sounds too loud to an adult, it's too loud for a child.
- Look for labels on toys that give age and safety recommendations and use that information as a guide. Check instructions for clarity.
- If you buy bicycles, scooters, skateboards, or inline skates, don't forget to include appropriate safety gear, such as helmets and pads. Make sure your child is of an appropriate age to use these vehicles. Riding toys, such as tricycles and nonpowered scooters, are the leading cause of toy-related injuries.
- Throw away plastic wrappings on toys as soon as they're opened. Follow instructions carefully when assembling toys. Also, dispose of any small objects that may have been present for packing purposes.
Research has shown that many manufacturers and retailers continue to sell toys that have small parts but are not labeled with the choke hazard warning as required by law. Other toys that exceed safety standards for loudness, toxic ingredients, and strangulation hazards are also in toy stores and increasingly available via the Internet.
It is also important to monitor the toys your children play with. Make sure they are not broken or coming apart. Also make sure the paint isn't cracked or peeling off. Repair or discard damaged toys.