With the holidays in full swing, many parents are now in full shopping mode. And some are already in full panic mode.
The reason for all this?
Their kids want the latest hot toys. And the parents want to see their kids’ faces light up when they get those toys.
But in the middle of all this frenzy, it’s a good idea to stop and remember safety. No, it’s not fun. But it is important.
That’s why Prevent Blindness America declared December to be Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month.
Before buying your child that wished for toy, stop and think if it’s truly appropriate for your child.
Well, it’s not always that the toy itself is unsafe.
In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) requires some of the most stringent testing for toys in the world. But even so it’s not perfect.
Some toys are found to be unsafe after they’ve been on sale for a while. Often what happens is children get hurt in unexpected ways. That’s when the manufacturer and/or the government either:
You can get the latest recall information from either the Safe Kids Worldwide website or the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website. These lists are not limited to toys, but you can search the CPSC site for toys to shorten the list.
Often, though, a toy is only unsafe in certain situations.
That’s why, for example, toys with small parts are not recommended for small children. They are choking hazards, and young children often put things in their mouths. Even with the warnings, about 1/3 of all toy-related deaths are from choking.
Other gifts, like sports equipment, often require safety gear to be used safely. For example, kids (and adults!) should wear helmets and other appropriate gear on bike, skates, and skateboards.
It’s up to you as a parent to learn all you can about the toys your child wants and the ones you ultimately buy. And while recommended ages are a good guideline, you know your child best. If your child doesn’t have the ability to use a toy or gift safely, get something else.
Scroll down for some ideas on celebrating this unofficial but worthwhile month.
The best way to celebrate this month is to make sure the gifts you give this holiday season are safe for the people you’re giving them to.
For example, when buying for young children, avoid toys/gifts with things like:
To see if parts are small enough to pose a choking hazard, use a small parts tester. Or just see if it’ll fit through a toilet paper roll—if yes, it’s too small for kids under 3 years old.
A few other tips:
KidsHealth offers more tips on Choosing Safe Toys.
You might also find the Safe Toys Checklist from Prevent Blindness helpful. It offers tips for making sure a toy is safe, especially for the eyes.
And, of course, even safe toys can be used in unsafe ways. Make sure your children know how to use their toys.
And be there to supervise, especially for things like crafts that involve sharp objects (scissors), heat (hot glue guns), and glue.
How do you make sure your kids have safe toys to play with?