The Ultimate Childrens Toy Safety Guide

The Ultimate Children's Toy Safety Guide

The holidays are right around the corner, which means you’ve probably begun looking for the perfect gifts for all of your loved ones. But when shopping for youngsters, the toy aisle can be intimidating, to say the least. Dozens of brightly colored toys line the shelves, and you may be unsure of what is appropriate for your little one to play with. Follow this guide to find safe toys for your child this holiday season.

Toys by Age

  1. 1 to 6 months old. Give newborns large toys they can hold and put in their mouth without the risk of choking.

  2. 7 to 12 months old. Give these kids toys they can grasp and shake, such as a rattle, and toys they can roll and drop, such as a soft ball.

  3. 1 year old. Give these older children toys they can listen to (such as one with buttons that make sounds when pushed), and simple picture books.

  4. 2 years old. Give toddlers toys they can pretend with (such as dolls or strollers), toys they can create with (such as large, washable, non-toxic markers), and toys that get them to move around (such as tunnels they can crawl through).

  5. 3 to 6 years old. Give these older kids more complex books, tricycles, non-toxic modeling dough, and other things they can pretend with.

Toys to Avoid

  1. Toys with small parts. “Toys with small parts can pose a choking hazard if any of these pieces fall off. Instead, look for toys that are one large item,” suggests Thomas Campbell, MD, physician at St. Joseph Health Primary Care Barron Road. If you’re unsure of whether the toy could become a choking hazard, hold it up to a toilet paper roll. If it fits inside the roll, it can fit inside a child’s mouth and is unsafe.

  2. Toys with harmful ingredients. Unfortunately, there are toys on the market that contain potentially toxic materials, including lead, mercury, and arsenic. If you’re unsure of the ingredients in a specific toy, you can look up the materials used in several brands in the Healthy Stuff Product Search database.

  3. Used toys. Used toys are more likely to break due to wear and tear from the previous owner. Also keep in mind that older toys might not meet current safety standards, and they could pose a danger to young children.

  4. Recalled toys. If you purchased your gifts early, double check there are no recalls between the time you bought them and the time you gift them. You can subscribe to a service that will email you with current children’s product recalls daily, so you don’t have to worry about searching for recall information yourself.

With these simple tips, you can give the gift of safe fun this holiday season! If you have additional questions about the right kind of toy for your little one, schedule an appointment to speak with your St. Joseph Health pediatrician about appropriate toys for your child’s age and developmental stage. In the event of an injury from play, the teams at St. Joseph Health emergency rooms are ready to help.

KidsHealth | Choosing Safe Toys for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Baby Center | Toy Safety Guidelines
Ecology Center | Tips on Shopping for Children
NAEYC | Good Toys for Young Children by Age and Stage

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