Even though December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month, children love getting presents year-round, whether they be for holidays, birthdays, or important milestones. And while toys are meant to be fun and entertaining, it’s important to remember they can also pose several safety risks. Are you surprised?
Unfortunately, many kids are treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries every year. There are a lot of toy choices out there, and it can be hard to find that perfect toy. Of course, you want to make sure that you choose a toy that the child will like. But it is also critical to consider the safety and age range of the different toys based on who you are buying for. If you’re looking for that perfect gift for a little one, there are ways you can shop safely. And if you’re a parent or guardian of a child, you can also protect your kids by implementing safe toy practices at home.
Shopping for Safe Toys & Gifts
Finding gifts for a child can be fun and exciting. From dolls to action figures to building blocks, there are so many options! When shopping for presents, keep these toy safety tips in mind:
- Always purchase toys that have "non-toxic" safety labels.
- Find games that meet your child's abilities, age, and interest.
- Avoid gifting toys with tiny parts for children younger than 3 years old.
- Purchase products with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) label.
- Gifting sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear. For example, if you’re buying a bicycle, also purchase a helmet.
- Avoid buying toys with flying parts or that shoot. Remember, BB guns are NOT toys!
When purchasing toys for children with special needs, remember expensive toys and electronics are not necessary. Creativity and play are enhanced by simple toys like wooden spoons, blocks, puzzles, and crayons. Children with special needs have a unique risk for injury if their physical or behavioral development does not match the age on the package. To help you choose the perfect toy in this instance, follow these simple tips:
- Choose toys that may appeal to different senses such as sound, movement, and texture.
- Consider interactive toys to allow the child to play with others.
- Think about the size of the toy and the position a child would need to be in to play with it.
- Watch out for choking hazards. If your child is small or has a swallowing condition, avoid toys with small parts, balls, marbles, or balloons.
- Speech, occupational, or physical therapists can suggest toys, activities, and interactions to help your child master new play skills at home.
Safety at Home
Don't let your kids rip open all those new toys just yet! Be sure to inspect all their toys for safe and sturdy construction. Explain to them how to properly use it and fix or throw away any broken toys or pieces. Once everything is open and assembled, immediately discard any plastic wrapping or other toy packaging so they don’t become dangerous playthings. This is especially important for younger children who are curious and prone to swallow or grab whatever is in reach. You can incorporate other safe practices in their playtime, such as:
- Remaining up to date with toy recalls.
- Teaching kids to put toys away.
- Keeping toys meant for older children away from younger siblings.
- Examining toys regularly for safety hazards, pointed edges, and broken pieces.
- Battery charging should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to young children.
Shoppers may forget about safety factors when it comes to purchasing toys and gifts, especially with all the excitement around the holidays. Safe Toys and Gifts Month is a good reminder for all of us that we need to be careful when making toy and gift choices all year-round.