December is the biggest gift-giving month in the world! It is also Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Here are some tips to help you to keep safety in mind as you’re shopping for the little people in your life:
- Make sure the age and skill level marked on the toy matches the age and skill level of the child you’re buying for; even a child who seems advanced for their age should not use toys meant for older children; the recommended age levels are determined by safety factors, not intelligence or maturity
- Check labels! Toys should have a label for ATSM (American Society for Testing and Materials) to show they have passed safety standards.
- Use the following guidelines for choosing safe toys for all ages:
- Check toys for sharp edges or points; toys should be sturdy enough to hold up to play/impact/chewing without breaking or being pulled apart easily
- Avoid small parts. Until your child turns 3, toy parts should be large enough so that they can’t be swallowed or lodged in the windpipe. You can buy a small objects choke tester like this one on Amazon or play it safe and try fitting it through a toilet paper roll. If a toy or part of a toy can fit inside the roll, avoid it for now.
- Hand-me-down and homemade toys should be checked carefully. They may not have been tested for safety. Painted toys made before 1978 may have paint that contains lead.
- When purchasing toys for children with special needs, try to choose toys that will appeal to different senses (consider sound, movement, texture) and consider the size of the toy and the position the child would need to be in to play with it.
- Immediately discard plastic wrapping and other toy packaging before giving your child the toy; keep toys that are appropriate for older children away from younger siblings
- Be aware of any recalls of unsafe toys. You can find out about any recent recalls through the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) website: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls
Read more about choosing safe toys here: