With the holiday season officially in full swing, it’s easy to become distracted and overlook your surroundings that you’d otherwise notice. December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month, so in an effort to keep your children in a safe playing environment all year round, recognize the importance of staying proactive and attentive with toys by following these helpful tips.
1. Examine toys before you buy them. Analyze each toy’s packaging and read the fine print on the labels that lists all the included gadgets. Avoid purchasing toys that contain a shooting mechanism or include hard parts that can fly off and potentially cause harm to a child. Additionally, look out for sharp, pointy edges that can also put children at risk for puncture wounds.
2. Keep special needs children in mind. Choose toys that appeal to different senses like sound, movement and texture. Interactive toys are great, but consider the size of the toy throughout your selection process as large, oversized toys can pose safety concerns for a small child that may not be able to handle its functionality.
3. Check out the labels. Prior to purchasing a new toy, ensure that it passed a safety inspection and listed updated codes. Additionally, look for the ATSM logo, which indicates the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials standards, and don’t buy toys without it.
4. Inspect for lead. It is critical that every guardian educates himself or herself about lead exposure from toys and its potential harm to children. Stay current on symptoms of lead poisoning and which toys have been recalled and taken off the stores’ shelves. Keep in mind that older toys are more likely to contain lead in the toy’s paint as safety protocols continue to expand for new toys that get introduced in the world. If you suspect your child is suffering from lead poisoning, have your child regularly wash his or her hands and immediately contact your doctor.
5. Avoid hazardous materials. Do not give crayons, markers or other liquid-based toys to a child unless they are labeled “nontoxic.” Since children are notorious for putting anything in their mouth, that means the every part, good and bad, can get ingested, which is extremely problematic if the contents are toxic to humans. Additionally, do not give children toys with cords, heating elements or ropes.
6. Notice the small parts. Toys with parts that can be easily swallowed are extremely dangerous for children, and could even be fatal, such as magnets and “button” batteries. Even if the toy itself is not comprised of anything poisonous, then choking becomes the primary hazard.
Keep these helpful hints in mind when purchasing and receiving gifts for your little ones this holiday season. When in doubt about the safety of a particular toy, monitor your child’s behavior with it to see if there are any immediate signs of danger. Playtime can still be safe and fun, it just takes a little bit of effort!