Frantic, last-minute holiday or birthday shopping for children often results in many parents forgetting toy safety. Further, some parents will automatically assume a toy is safe because it is being sold in stores. While toy recalls have declined drastically due to prevention efforts by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety and Commission (CPSC) keeping many hazardous toys off of store shelves, there are still many toys that are capable of injuring children. According to a report by the CPSC, an estimated 185,500 children ages 14 and younger were treated in emergency departments for toy-related injuries in 2015.
In order to keep your child safe, there are several things to consider when purchasing toys for your children:
While lead has been banned in paint, including paint found on products for children, in the United States since 1978, your child may still be in contact with lead paint if they are playing with imported toys or older toys made before the ban. Lead also has not been completely banned from plastic, so it can still be found in plastic toys. There are do-it-yourself kits available to check for lead, but their reliability is undetermined. If you suspect a toy containing lead, the best course of action to take is to remove the toy.
Your child’s age plays a big role in whether or not a toy is safe for them. Just because a toy is safe for one age group does not mean it is safe for another. For example, younger children are more likely to choke on smaller toys than older children. Abide by warnings on toys as well as their age recommendations.
When toys come with small pieces, there are usually warning labels on the packaging, but that is not always the case. For instance, if you are buying a used toy for your child at a yard sale, the original packaging will likely not be included. It is imperative to be cognizant of potential choking hazards posed by small toys and pieces, such as button batteries, toy vehicles, magnets, chess pieces, and marbles. Before giving a child a toy, examine it yourself and consider potential risks.
Make sure that you buy the appropriate safety gear, such as knee pads, elbow pads, and helmets, for your child when you buy them toys like scooters, bicycles, skateboards, and rollerblades. In order to protect your child, his or her helmet needs to properly fit their head. After an impact or every 5-10 years, you should replace your child’s helmet.
Some goo, modeling clay, putty, or other similar toys contain harmful chemicals that can hurt your child if ingested. There are even items that come with toys that can cause chemical burns if ingested by your child, e.g. button batteries. These items should be kept away from young children and infants who may not understand how to safely use them.
While we want our children to have fun when playing with their toys, we want them to be safe even more so. Keep these topics in mind the next time see toys in the house or go shopping for holiday or birthday gifts.