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Toys are meant for children to play with and enjoy themselves but they often pose danger to the little ones. Most manufacturers follow the guidelines issued by the government or concerned authorities but it is advisable that an adult be at hand when children three years of age and below are playing as they put everything in their mouth, making choking a very real danger.

Baby toy safety

Following are some important guidelines for buying toys for babies:

  • Buy toys which are suitable for your child according to his age. At the same time keep your child’s temperament and behavior in mind.
  • Read labels carefully. Manufacturers label toys for a particular age keeping safety levels determined and not intelligence of a child.
  • For toys which are painted lead free paint should be used.
  • Stuffed toys should be of washable material. The fabric used for toys should be flame retardant or resistant.
  • Crayons, paints, clay and art material should be non toxic.

All toys should carry certification that they have been evaluated and should be appropriately labelled. The sound produced by toys like squeakies, rattles and musical toys should not be too loud. Children sometimes hold such toys against their ears and the loud sound could cause ear damage.

Do not give your child toys handed down from relatives and friends or old toys you have kept for sentimental reasons. They may not meet safety standards of today. Also plastic, rubber and other material used to make toys becomes brittle and weak with age and may break easily. Old toys may also be worn out. They therefore may cause injury to the child.

Be very careful not to let scissors, knives, pins and other sharp objects lying around within reach of the child. Matches and fireworks will attract a child so store them in a safe place. Children love to play with balloons but un-inflated balloons and those which have burst can become choking hazards.

Safe toys for toddlers

Some things to be kept in mind concerning toys for infants and toddlers are:

  • Small children put everything they can lay their hands on in their mouth so toys should be at least 6 cm in length and 3 cm in diameter. This will prevent accidental swallowing and choking. A simple test can be to check that the toy should be too large to pass through a toilet paper roll.
  • Some toys have coins, marbles or balls. Do not buy them for your child. Even if they may be too large to swallow, they can get stuck above the wind pipe in the upper part of the throat and hamper breathing.
  • Toys for children of these ages should be strong to withstand chewing and made of safe material.
  • Toys should not have long strings in which a child can get entangled. They should also not have sharp ends, small wheels or buttons which can be pulled off, or sharp ends or stems which can scrape the back of the mouth.
  • Stuffed animals should not have fur or parts which can come loose.
  • Batteries in toys should be secured with screws. Battery fluid can cause chemical burns and internal injuries and the batteries themselves are choking hazards.
  • Rocking horses, trucks and cars which children can ride should be sturdy and stable to prevent toppling over. There should be a safety harness to hold the child. Only when a child is able to sir properly should he be put in such toys.
Toy safety tips for older children

Things to be kept in mind when buying toys for older children are:

  • Electric toys should have necessary safeguards and certification for safety.
  • Games which have arrows or darts should not have sharp tips. Points should have suction cups at the end.
  • Toy guns should be of a different color than the real ones so that the child does not make a mistake. Children should be explained again and again that guns and arrows should never be pointed towards anyone.
  • Games which have nets should be fixed firmly. They should be made of soft material so that they do not cut the skin or cause strangulation.
  • Children should use helmets, shin guards and hand and wrist guards of good quality when riding skate boards, bicycles and scooters.