How to Choose Safe Baby and Kids' Toys
Over 4 children have died and almost 600 more have been injured over the last three years in North America, as reported by theNovember 28, 2007 article "Most Toys Never Tested for Safety" on The Edmonton Journal. Toys can be unsafe for a variety of reasons: lead content, burn risks, laceration risks, strangulation risks, toxic chemical content, choking risks and entrapment risks. These health risks have led to injury and even death in some instances.
Parents.com, a popular online parenting resource community, polled their audience to see what percentage of parents were concerned about safety when it came to their child's toys. Almost 60% of those who took the survey said they were concerned about the toys they were buying for their children.
Buying Age Appropriate Toys for a Child
Toy manufacturers give an age recommendation on their products, which is designed to assist the consumer in buying a toy considered safe for a certain age groups. Some toys, with small parts, will not be suitable for an infant as there would likely be a choking risk if put into the mouth. Products will have an age recommendation and usually a note as to why this age is recommended. Warnings such a "contains small parts" is common for toys not recommended for a baby.
Play With the Toy and Test it for Safety
If possible, play with the toy. Check it for stability and for any loose parts or parts that may pinch the fingers or cause any obvious safety hazards. If the product seems to be unsafe, return it and choose another toy instead.
Always inspect toys regularly as normal play can cause weak spots in the products, which may one day break off and be a safety issue. If a toy has lost a part or a part is damaged, discard the toy.
Assemble Toys Safely and According to Instructions
If a toy requires assembly and is missing parts, contact the manufacturer to get the missing parts replaced. Using the incorrect part in toy assembly can lead to the toy breaking later on. Toy parts are built to certain specifications and require the correct part in order to work properly. Using a part not designed for the toy can make the product unstable and unsafe for the child.
Check for Toy Recalls Often
The government posts recall notices as they become aware of them. Check both the Health Canada website and the U.S Recalls website as the toy in question may very well have a recall in one country and not yet another.
Government websites will issue recalls on toys as well as provide other safety information on ways to keep the household safe. Topics covered by the Health Canada website include safety with batteries in toys, magnets in toys, balloons and toy boxes.
Choosing Safe Baby and Kids' Toys With no Known Health Risks
Understanding the potential dangers and being pro-active in warding them off is the first step in choosing safe toys. While accidents may not always be avoided, careful inspection of toys can prevent an accident before it happens.
Play with a toy first to check its integrity and see if a toy is safe for a child. Use age appropriate toys and follow manufacturer's recommendations for assembly to increase toy safety in the household. The government issues recalls and warnings often and checking those websites for toys in the house can aid in preventing accidents.
U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission. Toy Product Recalls (accessed July 1, 2010).
Health Canada. Consumer Product Safety (accessed July 1, 2010).
Edmonton Journal. Most Kids Toys Never Tested for Safety (accessed July 1, 2010).
Parents.com. Hot Topic: Toy Safety (accessed July 1, 2010).
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