Millions of toys are out there, and hundreds of new ones hit the shops each year. Toys are supposed to be fun and are an important part of development for children. But each year, many children are treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries.
The age recommendation on a toy reflects the safety of a toy based on four categories. These include:
- The physical ability of the child to play with the toy.
- The mental ability of a child to know how to use the toy.
- The play needs and interests present at various levels of a child’s development.
- The safety aspects of a particular toy.
Toys and games are tons of fun for kids and adults. Whether your kids are working on a puzzle, playing with building blocks or even inventing their own games, here are a few things to think about to help them stay safer and have a blast.
- Consider your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game. It’s worth a second to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure it’s just right for your child.
- Before you’ve settled on the perfect toy, check to make sure there aren’t any small parts or other potential choking hazards.
- Keep a special eye on small game pieces that may be a choking hazard for young children. While these kinds of games are great for older kids, they can pose a potential danger for younger, curious siblings.
- Remember to discard any plastic wrapping the toy came in, plastic wrapping can suffocate a small child.
- Don’t pick toys with a string or cord longer than 12 inches. A cord can too easily wrap around a young child’s neck, causing strangulation. Once your child can climb up on his hands and knees, remove crib gyms and hanging mobiles from his crib. Be particularly vigilant about older toys.
- Avoid toys with small magnets. The CPSC calls magnets a hidden home hazard. Small, powerful magnets are often used in toys, and they may fall out of the toy and be swallowed by a child. Two or more swallowed magnets (or a magnet and a metal object) can be attracted to each other through intestinal walls, twisting and pinching the intestines and causing holes, blockages, infection, or worse if not discovered and treated promptly.
- Check toys periodically for broken parts and potential hazards. A dangerous toy should be repaired immediately or thrown away. Sharp or splintered edges on wooden toys should be sanded smooth. Use only non-toxic paint on toys or containers that children come in contact with. Check outdoor toys for rust and weak or sharp parts that could become hazardous.
- After play time is over, use a bin or container to store toys for next time. Make sure there are no holes or hinges that could catch little fingers. Teach children early to put toys away when they are finished playing with them. This will prevent accidental falls over them.