Why is Toy Safety Important?
As parents, we may not realize that we take the same precautions for our personal belongings, work equipment, and other items that we may come in contact with as we do with toys for our children.
There is a general understanding that if something is unsafe to use at home, in the car, at work, or anywhere else, we do not use it. The same thought process applies to toy safety for infants, toddlers, and older children.
Toy safety is vital for many reasons. Parents and caregivers must be aware of choking hazards, suffocation risks, sharp edges, exposed circuits, the dangers of cords, and materials used to create individual toys.
Not all injuries are preventable, but in most situations, they are avoidable.
Understanding toy safety and teaching young children how to play with toys properly are essential stepping stones during child development.
What are Toy Safety Guidelines?
Many people think of toys as something that should always be fun and shouldn’t limit what kinds of activities kids can engage in.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. There are a few guidelines that manufacturers are required to follow when making toys.
These include age recommendations, warning labels, and proper care and storage instructions.
Manufacturers have to keep these rules to ensure everyone who buys their products is happy with the toy. For example, if you buy a toy made out of plastic, you will want to ensure that plastic won’t melt if left in direct sunlight.
A label may read, “Do Not Leave Unattended.” If a manufacturer doesn’t warn you about something, they didn’t think about it.
So, when you buy a toy, check the safety information and see if there are any warnings you missed.
What are Some Safety Precautions When a Child is Playing with Toys?
Here are a couple of crucial points to remember when a child is playing with toys.
First, always choose toys that are age and skill-level appropriate. Small game tokens or removable toy parts are frequent choking hazards. Exposed metals or circuits are not ideal for young children.
Toys with sharp edges can break through skin or cause other more serious injuries. If a toy has a skill level that significantly surpasses your toddler’s, the toy may be overwhelming or lead to disinterest.
Second, explain and demonstrate how to use a new toy. If a child is unaware of how to use a toy, cannot figure out what the toy is meant for, or appears too complicated to enjoy, the toy will not be used during playtime.
The proper use of a toy will benefit the child through purposeful design.
Avoid toys with noises that will frighten your toddler. Scary pictures or animated scenes should also be avoided until a child is old enough to know what is real and fake.
Marbles and small balls less than 2 inches should also be left for older children. Toddlers are still exploring the world and may not fully understand why it is important not to put things in their mouths that they can easily choke on.
When introducing bikes, scooters, or roller skates, it is also crucial to include helmets, knee pads, and elbow protection.
Cuts, scrapes, bruises, sprains, and breaks may heal just fine, but head injuries are not as simple.
How do You Know if Toys are Safe?
Some toys can be dangerous if played with inappropriately or if children are left unattended and unsupervised.
One example is a toy with interchangeable or removable parts. Most toys with accessories, removable pieces, or additional parts are created for older children, teenagers, and adults.
However, some toys are advertised for younger children and may contain small pieces that can be identified as choking hazards.
When children are supervised, understand it is not safe to put toys in their mouth, and demonstrate correct usage of a toy, those toys can be safe, but specific criteria are needed first.
Of course, there are plenty of toys that are safe. For instance, large wooden blocks, Mega Blocks, and Duplo Blocks are safe for toddlers since they are the larger version of the well-known LEGO.
Stuffed animals, most dolls, large-sized sports or inflatable balls, and most oversized toy cars are also excellent options.
Toys explicitly designed to improve and enhance child development are generally safe to use for different ages.
Problem-solving, critical thinking, counting, sorting, grouping, imaginative play, interactive singing and dancing, and toys that focus on motor skills are fantastic choices!