Halloween is over and the holiday magazines touting children’s toys are arriving in mailboxes and online. There is an incredible variety of children’s toys on the market, and parents of young children have the daunting task of evaluating toys in the best interest of their children’s safe play. Sometimes it’s difficult when the hype over a toy gets kids happily excited and encourages them to want a particular toy–remember “Bucky Balls”–and you as a parent learn that the toy is not safe–and you are momentarily heartsick about disappointing your child for safety’s sake and saying, nope, not this time. Well, there is help! Nemours has a very good website called “Kids Health” and they have it down to a science (which is their specialty) about what toys kids should have and how parents can evaluate certain toys. Here is the link and I urge parents to check it out, this particular link is about evaluating toys for toddlers: http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/safetoys-young.html?WT.ac=p-ra# 1
One point KidsHealth makes that is extremely important is the size of the toy, that it cannot be swallowed and block a child’s airway. Toys for infants and toddlers need to be “at least 1¼ inches (3 centimeters) in diameter and 2¼ inches (6 centimeters) in length — so that they can’t be swallowed or lodged in the windpipe. A small-parts tester, or choke tube, can determine if a toy is too small.” If you don’t have access to one of those, you might use the toilet tissue roll (insert) and measure by that size. Can it be swallowed? Toys with small or detachable parts, or that have sharp edges are also ill-advised.
Painted toys can be a problem, parents need to make sure that whatever paint was used on a toy, it is lead-free. Parents should check age-appropriateness for children and whether a toy may be too loud to be used by a young child. We don’t want a toy’s noise to contribute to hearing loss.
A few years ago, there were troubles with stuffed animals manufactured overseas, which were contaminated with cadmium. Cadmium, lead, and other toxic chemicals have been found in imported children’s toys which makes the toys toxic to children. In 2010, the CPSC noted that children’s jewelry items (manufactured overseas) frequently contained cadmium, an alloy used to strengthen metal.
Fabric toys should have labels noting whether they are flame resistant or flame retardant. Stuffed toys need to be washable. Older and hand-me-down toys, while they come with sentiment, can also be a problem because they may have breakable parts, lead paint, or other contaminants, and because they were made before stricter rules about children’s toys were in place.
So choosing a toddler’s toy is more difficult than perhaps we give parents, family members and caregivers credit for doing! Be safe, and if you have questions, ask AND check out KidsHealth’s safe toys website.
1 KidsHealth, Nemours, http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/safetoys-young.html?WT.ac=p-ra#