A Guide to Joyful and Injury-Free Playtime

This holiday season, and always, it’s vital to pick toys that keep our kids safe as well as happy. To ensure that your child can play safely and give you peace of mind select toys that are age appropriate and keep an eye out for safety recalls. Try these tips so that we can make playtime both fun and secure this holiday season!

Toy Selection Matters

As the holidays approach, children everywhere eagerly anticipate the arrival of new toys that will bring joy to their hearts. However, with so many new toys on the market now, it’s crucial for parents and caregivers to remember that not all toys are created equal when it comes to safety. According to data from the U.S. Consumer Safety Commission, more than 152,000 children were treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries in 2021. While play is essential for child development, it should always be done safely.

Selecting toys that support your child’s development is a top priority. It’s advisable to consult your child’s pediatrician for recommendations on toys suitable for each stage of their development.

Age Recommendations

One of the most critical aspects of toy safety is to check the age recommendations on the packaging. These recommendations are not mere suggestions; they serve to reduce the risk of choking hazards and ensure that the toys match a child’s developmental stage, interests and abilities. The National Association for the Education of Young Children provides valuable guidelines on selecting toys that aligns with a child’s development stage.

By simply adhering to age guidance and other safety instructions found on toy packaging, parents and caregivers can significantly minimize the risk of injuries during playtime.

Safety Tips from Experts

To ensure your child’s safety during play, consider these important safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):

  1. Read Labels: Always read labels on toys to understand how they guide safe toy usage. Ensure that electric toys bear the UL Approved label for safety and prioritize toys labeled as ‘nontoxic’ to guarantee safety.
  2. Larger is Better: Choose toys that are too big for your child to swallow. Young children often put objects in their mouths, and small toy pieces and accessible batteries can be dangerous. Keep small balls and toys with small parts away from children younger than age 3 and deflate balloons away from children younger than age 8.
  3. Avoid Toys That Could Cause Physical Harm: Steer clear of toys that shoot objects into the air, as they can lead to serious eye injuries or choking hazards. Additionally, excessively loud toys can harm a child’s hearing, so it’s best to avoid them. Be cautious with hobby kits and chemistry sets, especially for children under 12, as they can pose risks like fires, explosions and exposure to dangerous chemicals. Ensure older children understand how to use them safely.
  4. Choose Well-Made Toys: When considering stuffed toys, look for those with secure seams and machine washability to ensure safety and easy cleaning. Choose sturdy plastic toys to prevent breakage and the possibility of sharp edges, making playtime safer for children.
  5. Get Safety Gear: Always include helmets for activities like scooters and riding toys, and make sure that children use them every time.
  6. Discard Packaging: Once the gifts are open, immediately discard plastic wrappings or other packaging on toys before they become dangerous playthings.

Information about Recalled Toys

The CPSC plays a crucial role in safeguarding consumers from hazardous toys by setting rules and issuing recalls when necessary. Toys can be recalled for various reasons, such as unsafe lead levels, choking hazards or fire risks, all aimed at ensuring children’s safety. Just this past August, some common toys and products for kids, including bath toys, baby monitors and children’s helmets were recalled.

If you ever suspect that a toy you’ve purchased may be recalled, it’s essential to promptly remove it from your home and consult a healthcare professional if there is a suspicion of lead exposure or other injury. Early intervention is key to protecting children’s health. I recommend parents use the FDA Safety Recalls website to search the toys and products in their home for any possible recalls.

Commit to Child Safety During Playtime

As parents and caregivers, our top priority is the safety and well-being of our children. By following the tips above and staying informed about toy recalls, we can ensure our kids can play without worry. This holiday season let’s commit to making our children’s playtime injury-free and full of happiness, and remember that choosing the right toys is an essential step towards that goal.

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