As the holiday season marches ahead, so does toy shopping for the special children in our lives. Toys are intended to be fun and enjoyable for children, but they can pose serious health risks if they are not properly made and designed.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors and regulates toys. Any toys made in or imported into the United States after 1995 must comply with CPSC standards.
The CPSC recommends the following toy safety shopping tips appropriate for a child’s age:
Under 3 years old
- Children under 3 tend to put everything in their mouths. Avoid buying toys intended for older children that may have small parts that pose a choking danger.
- Never let children of any age play with deflated or broken balloons because of the choking danger.
- Avoid marbles, balls and games with balls that have a diameter of 1.75 inches or less. These products also pose a choking hazard to young children.
- Children at this age pull, prod and twist toys. Look for toys that are well-made with tightly secured eyes, noses and other parts.
- Avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.
Ages 3 to 5
- Avoid toys that are constructed with thin, brittle plastic that might easily break into small pieces or leave jagged edges.
- Look for household art materials, including crayons and paint sets, marked with the designation “ASTM D-4236.” This means the product has been reviewed for chronic health hazards and, if necessary, the product has been labeled with cautionary information.
- Teach older children to keep their toys away from their younger brothers and sisters.
- For all children, adults should check toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards. Damaged or dangerous toys should be repaired or thrown away.
- If buying a toy gun, be sure the barrel, or the entire gun, is brightly colored so that it’s not mistaken for a real gun.
- If you buy a bicycle for any age child, buy a helmet, too, and make sure the child wears it.
Check the National Safe Kids Campaign website for updates and information on recent toy recalls.