At the risk of sounding like a nagging parent, toys are fun…until someone gets hurt.
More toys will be sold between now and December 25 than during the entire rest of the year. In 2009, there were more than 250,000 toy-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms…and 12 children died. Motorized scooters were the most dangerous, accounting for 27% of injuries. Other hazards came from tricycles and other riding toys, cuts and lacerations from sharp edges, and choking from small toy pieces. It may come as a surprise to some people, but some common choking hazards are deflated balloons, small rubber balls, marbles, and rubber darts.
If toys are in in your future—to buy, or to receive for your own children—please take a moment to review these safety tips, courtesy of Safe Kids USA:
- Look for well-made toys; they may cost a little more, but the costs of an emergency room visit will be more expensive…financially and emotionally.
- Check toys regularly for damage that could create hazards. Repair or discard damaged toys immediately.
- Make sure that discarded toys are out of children’s reach.
- Watch your children while they play. Be aware of potential dangers like small parts, cords and strings, moving parts, electrical or battery-powered cords or wheels
- Do not allow riding toys near stairs, traffic or swimming pools
- Teach children to put toys away after playing. Toys intended for younger children should be stored separately from those suitable for older children
- Make sure toy chests are open (no lid) or have safety hinges. Many children have been injured by lids that close unexpectedly, or with too much force.
- Be sure the toys are age-appropriate. Read the warning labels before buying toys for your children.
Unless the toy comes with a label, it isn’t always easy to judge the appropriate age range. Fortunately, Safe Kids USA has provided a convenient guide for choosing toys according to a child’s age, interests, and skill levels…always with safety in mind. Please note that some children may wish to play with toys from a younger age group, but you should never rush their development—don’t buy toys from an older age group. And regardless of what the guide recommends, always examine the toys and follow age recommendations on the label.
(To print a copy of a pocket guide of toys by age, click here: Suitable Toys)
Ages 0 to 1 year
Until age 1, infants explore with their hands, mouths and eyes. They enjoy toys they can touch or squeeze. Some good options include:
- Crib gyms
- Floor activity centers
- Activity quilts
- Squeaky toys
- Soft dolls or stuffed animals
Ages 1 to 3 years
At this age, toddlers love to climb, jump, walk, and throw. They play rough-and-tumble games. Good options include:
- Soft blocks
- Large blocks
- Push and pull toys
- Pounding and shaping toys
Ages 3 to 5 years
At this age, children experiment with imaginary situations and have toys that are close companions. Some good options are:
- Non-toxic art supplies
- Pretend toys (such as play money, telephones, etc.)
- Teddy bears or dolls
- Outdoor toys such as a tricycle with a helmet
Ages 5 to 9 years
Children at these ages like to be challenged with complex games that teach specific skills and concepts. Good options are:
- Arts and crafts kits
- Jump ropes
- Non-toxic art supplies
- Miniature dolls and action figures
Ages 9 to 14 years
At these ages, children develop lifelong skills and hobbies, and they also enjoy team sports. Good options are:
- Handheld electronic games
- Board games
- Sports equipment
- Model kits
- Musical instruments