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Toy safety goes beyond the materials that toys are made from and includes selecting age appropriate toys, storing toys away properly, maintaining your toys as well as being careful around cords and toys with small objects.
We all have to be vigilant regarding the safety of our toys since our children are the ones who will be playing with them and children, especially those under the age of 3 years, will not always know when toys are unsafe for them.
Heed Toy Instructions Carefully
Instructions that come with toys are there for a reason and should be heeded well.
First of all, only buy age appropriate toys, so if your child is 2 years old, do not give them toys that are recommended for children aged 3 and above.
If they are given presents by others that are not age appropriate, put these toys away and get them out again when your child is old enough to play with those toys.
Plastic wrappings on toys can be fatal, so throw these away as soon as your child has opened their new toy.
Always read labels – they will give you good advice. Look out for and note those toys that have labels indicating: Flame retardant or flame resistant, which means this item is not going to catch fire or burn easily.
Always read the instructions on toys made out of fabric and ensure you know how to keep soft toys clean. After all, as well as safety, you want to ensure the toys your children play with are kept clean and hygienic. This is especially important in the case of babies who tend to want to put everything in their mouth.
Toys With Small Parts Can Be Dangerous
For example, if a particular toy poses a potential choking hazard, you should find a label or warning on that toy indicating that this toy is not suitable for children under the age of 3 years.
Even some plush toys such as the plush My Pillow Pets, although soft and fluffy and hard to believe that they would cause any potential harm, they do come with a warning and they are not suitable for children under the age of 3 years. Because a child could choke on the fur, or bite some of the fur off and it could get stuck in their throat.
A 2 year old is not going to know that biting or pulling fur off a plush toy could be potentially fatal. That’s why, it’s up to us, the parents, the babysitters, the carers, to look out for our children. They won’t know, they can’t read, they don’t yet understand what is safe and what is not. And often, something that seems like a lot of fun for an 18 month old, is clearly not fun at all.
When it comes to small parts, you have to not only look out for toys that come in small pieces, such as Lego building sets, which are often for children aged 3 or over, but you have to stay aware of any toys which might have broken or have had small parts break off them. This is another hazard.
Consider this scenario: You might have bought a car which was age appropriate for your 3 year old. However, over time and with wear and tear, a part of the car broke and exposed parts small enough to be swallowed or pieces that could end up becoming lodged in your child’s ears, nose or even his windpipe. Clearly, this now becomes a toy that is unsafe.
Actually, it is against the law to have small parts in new toys manufactured for 3 year olds or younger children. This also means that for companies whose product line includes soft toys or dolls, if these toys have eyes and nose that are sewn on and could potentially fall off again, then these toys cannot be sold to children aged 3 and under.
So, there are laws in place to ensure that toys are manufactured to strict safety standards, however, as parents, we need to always be on the lookout for toys that have become old and broken and are now potentially dangerous.
It’s a good idea to go through your children’s toy boxes every 3 months, or sooner, and remove all broken toys.
Sharp Edges and Pointy Bits On Toys
By law, new toys that are manufactured for children aged 8 years and under must not have any sharp glass or metal edges. Whilst this law ensure that new toys bought are safe, remember that toys that are old can break with wear and tear and this process might reveal parts/edges that are sharp.
Therefore, always go through your children’s toys and discard those that are broken or damaged in anyway.
Check your children’s wooden toys, such as any wooden building blocks, and see if any of the wooden parts have rubbed off each other to expose splinters. If so, sand these smoothly down.
By the way, this also relates to outdoor play equipment too. You need to check this regularly and ensure all parts on swings and outdoor play slides are working and not damaged in any way.
Encourage Your Children To Look After Their Toys
Teaching your children to look after their toys and putting them away properly once they have finished playing will be a great help for you and good discipline for them.
After all, you don’t want to make a habit of clearing up after them when they have had a whole day of play and toys are strewn all over the floor.
If you are buying lightweight plastic storage boxes, where the lids comes off completely and can put back on again, these are good. If you have wooden toy boxes for your children, the ones where the lid lifts up but is still attached to the box at one end (rather like the trunk of a car), then make sure the lid will stay open in any position and is not loose enough to come down on your child’s head when he or she is putting their toys away.
Toys That Go Bang!
Toy guns and toy caps that make very loud noises could potentially damage hearing. Ideally, avoid toys such as these if you can.
You will often find a label that says “Warning – Do not fire closer than one foot to the ear. Do not use indoors” on some of these toys and you should heed that warning well.
Plastic Wrapping, Cords & Strings Are Dangerous for Kids
This has been mentioned earlier but we felt it was important to stress again. The plastic wrapping that some toys come in should be thrown away immediately once your child has opened their new toys.
All too often the excitement of getting a new toy and opening it get the better of everyone, and it is all too easy to forget the plastic wrapping.
Unfortunately, in the hands of a baby or toddlers, this can be deadly, so we urge you to think safety first and throw away all plastic wrapping immediately.
Uninflated Balloons Are A Death Hazard
Balloons might seem like fun decoration for parties and children love them but it is a shocking fact that more children have suffocated on broken or uninflated balloons that on any other type of toy.
Always be wary of toys that have long strings or So, if you are hosting a party or are attending a party and there are balloons around, make sure you throw away those that break. Don’t leave these lying around for your child, or other children, to put into their mouth.
cords attached to them, especially for very young children, because they can easily become entangled around your child’s neck and cause strangulation.
For this reason, you need to be extra careful when buying baby gyms or toys that have long ribbons, cords or loops that could potentially get wrapped around a baby’s neck.
If you take note of these things and use common sense when buying toys for your children, you will ensure that your child will have a fun time playing with toys that are safe.
If the toys are safe, your child is safe from harm from those toys too.