Toy Safety

Kids’ Health & Safety: 11 Things to Consider When Shopping For Toys

  1. Know ages and stages Buy toys that are appropriate for the child’s age, size, and skill level and maturity. Young children could choke on small parts from an older child’s toy.
  2. Is it sturdy? Make sure eyes, noses and other small parts on stuffed animals are tightly secured. Look for secure seams and edges on dolls, stuffed animals and rattles. Loose parts or stuffing could cause choking.
  3. Turn down the volume Many toys emit sounds that can cause hearing loss, like boom boxes, bike horns, cap guns, laser guns, telephones, guitars, keyboards and beepers. Look for sound-control devices on children’s tape recorders and radios.
  4. Beware of hidden hazards Scissors with sharp points or toy sewing kits are for older children and should be used with supervision. Watch out for toys that may have hidden wires, staples or pins and plastic toys with sharp edges. Never give children toys made of glass, which can break.
  5. Read fine print on labels Look for “flame retardant/flame resistant” on fabric products. Electrical toys must have an Underwriter’s Laboratories label of approval
  6. Does it pass the choking test? Never let young children, especially those under age three, play with small objects, such as marbles, toys with small buttons or eyes, beads, small balls and even stuffing pellets used to fill dolls, teddy bears and other stuffed animals. To test a toy’s size (as a rough approximation), place it inside an empty toilet paper roll. If the toy can slide through, it’s too small for young children.
  7. Watch out for strings Toys with strings can strangle or choke very young children. Strings any longer than three or four inches should have a “breakaway” cord specially designed to break away if pressure is applied.
  8. Is it poison proof? Look for labels that identify paint sets and crayons as nontoxic. Old toys or those manufactured outside the U.S. could contain lead paint. Millions of popular children’s toys have been recalled due to lead paint in excess of permissible limits. Lead is toxic if ingested and can cause adverse health effects. Recall information is posted on the Contra Costa Health Services Web site, . Additional information on product safety recalls can be found at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website,
  9. Toy guns may miss the mark By law, look alike and imitation firearms must include bright orange markings so people can’t mistake them for real guns, or the entire gun must be white or another bright color that would never resemble a real gun. Since BB and pellet guns can cause serious injury, even death, these are not appropriate gifts for kids.
  10. Be picky about packaging Very young children, especially infants, can suffocate in plastic bags. Once you remove thin plastic packaging from new toys, carefully tie it in knots and discard appropriately. Carefully discard packing that may have staples or splinters.
  11. Give a toy that encourages active play The early years are critical for the development of motor skills and an inclination for regular physical activity throughout life. An active toy is fun now and encourages a future of good health.

Adapted from National Safety Council

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