7 tips for safe toy holiday shopping
You are probably already swamped with toy advertisements this holiday season. Toys are supposed to be fun and help with appropriate development, but knowing the safety of the toys you buy your kids is extremely important. Each year, scores of kids are treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries.
For safety, manufacturers follow certain guidelines and label most new toys for specific age groups. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors and regulates toys. Any toys made in or imported into the United States after 1995 must comply with CPSC standards. But perhaps the most important thing a parent can do is to supervise play.
7 guidelines to keep in mind when shopping for toys:
- Toys made of fabric should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Stuffed toys should be washable.
- Painted toys should be covered with lead-free paint.
- Art materials should say nontoxic.
- Crayons and paints should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, which means that they've been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
- Avoid older or hand-me-down toys. They may not meet current safety standards or have become hazardous through play.
- Read labels for age appropriateness and check the guidelines published by the CPSC or other groups. Age levels for toys are determined by safety factors, not intelligence or maturity.
After you've purchased safe toys, make sure kids know how to use them. Playing with your kids teaches them how to play safely while having fun.
To keep toys safe at home, parents should:
- Teach kids to put toys away.
- Check toys regularly to make sure that they aren't broken or unusable.
- Wooden toys shouldn't have splinters.
- Bikes and outdoor toys shouldn't have rust.
- Stuffed toys shouldn't have broken seams or exposed removable parts.
- Throw away or repair broken toys right away.
- Store outdoor toys when they're not in use so that they are not exposed to rain or snow.
- Keep toys clean. Read the manufacturer’s directions as some plastic toys can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Another option is to mix antibacterial soap or a mild dishwashing detergent with hot water in a spray bottle and use it to clean toys, rinsing them afterward.
If you find an unsafe toy, check the CPSC website for the latest information about toy recalls or call their hotline at (800) 638-CPSC to report a toy you think is unsafe. If you have any doubt about a toy's safety, err on the side of caution and do not allow your child to play with it.