Toy Safety Tips

Toy Safety Tips

With the holiday season upon us, chances are you’re spending a lot of time shopping for toys for the children in your life. 

“Toys offer wonderful opportunities for children to learn and explore their surroundings,” says Dr. Sue Cohen, Director of Early Childhood and Psychological Services at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center. “They provide a great opportunity to develop motor and cognitive skills—plus, playing with your child will create lasting bonds.” 

Playing with toys also sparks a child’s creativity and helps them develop emotionally, says Dr. Cohen. “When they use toys to role play, they have a chance to express their feelings, practice managing them and explore different social scenarios.”

Whether you shop online or in stores, it’s important to keep safety in mind when choosing that new board game, baseball, bike, blocks—whatever is on your list!

Each year, an estimated 217,000 children are treated at hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries. The majority of those injuries are incurred from riding toys such tricycles and non-powered scooters, which account for more than 40% of toy injuries to children 5 through 17 years of age.

Another big danger is choking, since children under three love to put everything in their mouths. You can guard against this danger by getting a simple small parts tester and also follow the age guidelines on the toy packages.

Following are some toy safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys that are too advanced will frustrate your child and may pose safety hazards for younger children.
  • When choosing gifts for babies and toddlers, consider toys that will build developmental skills. Toys that can be manipulated, such as shape sorters, stacking blocks and baby-safe puzzles, are great for developing fine motor, cognitive and perceptual skills. 
  • If you are considering a digital device for a child or teen, such as a tablet, smartphone or game system, think about the purpose of the device and the rules you want to set around its use. For more information, see these tips on healthy digital media and technology use.
  • Children can have serious health problems from swallowing button batteries or magnets. Keep them away from young children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows one.
  • To prevent burns and electrical shocks, do not give children under age 10 a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
  • Children can choke or suffocate on broken or uninflated balloons. Do not allow children under age 8 to play with them.
  • Remove tags, strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children. Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches long, because they could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
  • Warning labels give important information about how to use a toy and what ages it is for. Be sure to show your child how to use the toy.
  • Parents should store toys in a designated location, such as on an open shelf or in a bin, and keep older kids’ toys away from young children. If you use a toy box, choose one with no lid or a lightweight, non-locking lid and ventilation holes. 

Dr. Cohen adds, “When possible choose toys that spark imagination and creativity.”

Happy shopping!