Not all of the millions of toys in stores today are suitable or safe for toddlers and preschoolers. Toy-related injuries occur quite often in children within this age bracket; with choking being a major risk in children below age 3. It is therefore important to ensure that you choose toys that are safe for your child. Below are some guidelines to remember when selecting toys and measures to take, aside from supervised play, to help prevent toy-related injuries among toddlers and preschoolers.
- Age and manufacturer recommendations
Always buy toys that are appropriate for the child’s age. You should select toys depending on the child’s age, temperament, and habits but never on intelligence or maturity. For instance, despite a child being able to sit without support and the safety straps and harnesses on riding toys; always check the manufacturer’s age recommendation.
- Safety standards
Visit the consumer Product Safety Commission website to view information about recalled toys or check on a toy’s safety record.
Avoid older toys handed down from friends and family, especially those from before 1978 since they might not meet safety standards. They can be faulty and hazardous to the child. You should also avoid stuffed animals and carnival giveaways.
Toys should be at least 3cm and 6 cm in diameter and length respectively to minimize the risk of choking. Use a choke tube or a toilet paper roll to determine whether the toy can be swallowed. Objects that are smaller than this or games involving small balls or toys that have small removable parts should be avoided. They should also not contain sharp parts, pinch points or small parts that can reach the back of the child’s mouth. Any strings should be less than 7 inches.
Toys that are battery operated are not suitable for this age group unless they are concealed with covers that have been firmly screwed in place. This is because if the kid gains access to the battery, there is danger of choking, chemical burns and internal bleeding.
The toys should be strong enough to withstand constant chewing, pulling and smashing without breaking.
The toys must be washable and if made from fabric, the material should not be flammable. It should be clearly labeled as flame resistant.
If painted, the paint used must be lead-free. Art materials should also be nontoxic; this should be clearly indicated on the pack. In addition, make sure that the paints and crayons you buy have been tested by the American Society for Testing and Materials. You can tell this by looking for “ASTM D-4236” on the toy package.
- Storage and maintenance
Despite selecting the safest toy, you must ensure that safety is maintained at home. You can keep your children safer by cleaning and properly storing toys when not in use. You should teach your kids to put their toys away. You should also check toys regularly for faults, wear and tear including splinters and rust. If faulty or worn out, either throw them away or if possible, repair them immediately.
For added safety, keep fireworks, sharp objects, balloons and matches away from children’s reach. You should also ensure that squeak and rattle toys are not too loud since they can cause hearing loss.