When you think of toys for your young children (under 5), probably one of the last things you think about is them being harmful. But sadly, a 2009 statistic shows over 200,000 toy related injuries in U.S. emergency rooms. So obviously we need to be more aware of the dangers of toys to our children. Here are a few guidelines for how to pick out safe and fun toys.
1. Developmental Age: Just because a toy falls under the age range of your child does not mean that your child is ready for that particular toy. Every once in awhile I will catch my 3 year old attempting to put small objects in his mouth. So we do not buy toys that have small pieces as of yet. If you know that a toy is just going to get your child in trouble (launching toys) then maybe hold off till you think they are mature enough to handle them safely.
2. Large Scale: Usually around the 3 year old range (not in my case, re-read number 1) children lose the desire to put things in their mouth. Until then buy toys that have larger pieces or that are just a solid piece (trucks, trains, dolls). You can use the toilet paper roll test to see if a toy is large enough. Try to fit the questionable item through a toilet paper roll, if it doesn't fit, it is probably safe for your little one.
3. Hercules: Make sure that the toy isn't too heavy. You don't want your child straining to lift or the toy falling on top of them.
4. Made Well: Make sure that the product is made well. If it is a stuffed animal, make sure the limbs, tail, buttons, ribbon are all sewn on properly and tightly, it is better to not get a toy with buttons or ribbons to be honest. Also, check the edges and paint make sure there is no peeling or sharp corners.
5. Cords and Strings: These can be tricky, since one year model of a toy, lets say a phone, can have a longer cord than an updated version of the same phone. Be mindful of hand-me-downs and garage sale items.
6. Toxic Toys: Even though a toy might fit the above guidelines there are still other dangers that a toy can pose to your child. It is the one I do not like to think about, toxic chemicals. I am not "that mom" that goes overboard on childcare issues, but this one is definitely worth you double checking. There are all sorts of chemicals found in all sorts of toys. You can go to Healthystuff.org and review their full data base of toys.
Toys are great, don't get me wrong. Heck, my kids have rooms full, we don't just make them play with fruit and vegetables. But, when selecting toys it is good to have these guidelines to go by. You will feel much better knowing you are providing the safest play possible and your kid will feel better not being in the emergency room.
Larah Shelton is a blogger for Smith Monitoring, a leader in the Houston home alarm industry. She enjoys spending time with her family, shopping and eating dessert.