Choose toys with care. Keep in mind the child’s age, interests and skill level.
Look for quality design and construction in all toys for all ages.
Make sure that all directions or instructions are clear – to you, and when appropriate, to the child.
Plastic wrappings on toys should be discarded at once before they become deadly playthings.
Look on the label for, and follow, age recommendations, such as “Not recommended for children under age three.”
Look for other safety labels including: “Flame retardant/Flame resistant” on fabric products, and “washable/hygienic materials’ on stuffed toys and dolls.
Adults should periodically check all children’s toys for breakage and potential hazards. A damaged, potentially dangerous toy should be thrown away or repaired immediately.
Sharp edges on wooden toys or surfaces covered with splinters should be sanded smooth. When repainting toys and toy boxes, avoid using leftover paint unless it was purchased recently - older paints may contain lead. Examine all outdoor toys regularly for rust or weak parts that could become dangerous.
Teach children to put their toys safely away on shelves or in a toy chest after playing in order to prevent trips and falls.
Toy boxes, should also be checked for safety. Use a toy chest that has a lid that will stay open in any position to which it is raised, and will not fall unexpectedly on a child. For extra safety, be sure there are ventilation holes in the box.
Watch for sharp edges that could cut and hinges that could pinch. Be sure that toys used outdoors are put away properly after play-time – rain or dew can rust or damage toys and toy parts, creating hazards.
New toys intended for children under eight years of age should, by regulation, be free of sharp glass and metal edges. With use, however, older toys may break, exposing sharp edges. Discard these toys immediately.
Older toys can break to reveal parts that are small enough to be swallowed or to become lodged in a child’s windpipe, ears or nose. The law bans the sale of toys with small parts in new items intended for children under the age of three. This includes removable small eyes and noses on stuffed toys and dolls, and small, removable squeakers on squeeze toys.
Broken toys may have dangerous points or prongs. Stuffed toys may have bendable wires inside, which could cut or stab if they become exposed. Sharp points in new toys and other articles intended for use by children under eight year of age are prohibited.
Toy caps and some noisemaking guns and other toys can produce sounds at levels that can damage hearing. The law requires the following label on boxes of caps producing noise above a certain level: “WARNING – Do not fire closer than one foot to the ear. Do not use indoors.” Caps producing noise that can injure a child’s hearing are banned.
Toys with long strings or cords are dangerous for infants and very your children. The cords may become wrapped around an infant’s neck, causing strangulation.
Never hang toys with long strings, cords, loops, or ribbons in cribs or playpens where children can become entangled. Remove hanging crib gyms from the crib when the child can pull up on hands and knees; some children have been strangled when they fell across hanging crib gyms.
Projectiles – guided missiles and similar flying toys – can be turned into weapons and can injure eyes. Children should never be allowed to play with adult lawn darts or other hobby or sporting equipment that have sharp points. Arrows or darts used by children should have soft cork tips, rubber suction cups, or other protective tips intended to prevent injury. Check to be sure the tips are secure. Avoid buying any dart gun or other toy which might be capable of firing articles not intended for use in the toy, such as pencils or nails.
Every toy is not suited for every child
Keep toys designed for older children out of the hands of little ones. Follow labels that give age recommendations – some toys are recommended only for older children because they may be hazardous in the hands of a younger child. Teach older children to help keep their toys away from younger brothers and sisters.
Even balloons, when uninflated or broken, can choke or suffocate children. More children have suffocated on uninflated balloons than on any other type of toy.
Electric toys that are misused or improperly assembled or wired, can shock or burn. These toys must meet mandatory requirements for maximum surface temperatures, electrical construction and prominent warning labels. Toys with heating elements are recommended for children over eight years old. Children should be taught to use electric toys properly, cautiously, and only with adult supervision.
Rattles, squeeze toys, and teethers should be big enough so that they cannot fit in a baby’s throat.
Protecting children from unsafe toys is everyone’s responsibility. Careful toy selection and proper supervision of children at play is – and always will be – the best way to protect children from toy related injuries.
This information is made possible by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.