By Jamell Williams
For young children, toys come with numerous benefits. Not only are they fun, but they also stimulate the imagination and help with learning. But there is a serious side to toys; each year, millions of children are treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries, and tragedy can result from poor choices of toys or inadequate parental supervision.
As a parent of a young child, you are already well aware that babies tend to put things in their mouths, which is why we keep small objects away from them. Indeed, choking is one of the biggest risks that parents need to worry about, and this extends into the toddler years. Children two and three years might not be as mouth-oriented as babies, but they do tend to put things in their mouths. So when it comes to finding safe toys for them, avoiding choke hazards is still important.
In the U.S., the Consumer Product Safety Commission closely oversees the safety of children’s toys and ensures that all are properly labeled. When shopping for toys, check all labels, and approach all toys without safety labeling with caution. Of course, you may sometimes receive homemade toys or toys shipped from countries that have different labeling practices. In these cases, use your own parenting sense, and err on the side of caution.
Here are a few important things to look for on toy safety labels:
· Make sure all toys, especially fabric ones, are made of flame resistant materials. This should be noted on the safety label.
· Make sure all fabric toys are washable.
· All paint used on toys should be free of lead.
· All art materials should be made of nontoxic substances.
Also keep in mind that while older toys might have some sentimental value, they should be used with caution if they were manufactured before modern safety standards were put in place. Again, use your common sense, and steer clear of anything that causes you to worry even a little.
Here are a few other guidelines to keep in mind when choosing toys for toddlers:
· Watch out for any small parts that can come off during rough play. This includes batteries stored in compartments that can be opened.
· Avoid toys that are breakable or that have parts that are breakable.
· Avoid toys that have parts that can be chewed off.
· Watch out for points, sharp edges, or small ends that reach to the back of the child’s throat.
· Watch for toys with splinters, rust, or flaked paint.
· Throw away toys once they are broken or damaged.
· Regularly check the website of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for news about toy recalls. If you find that you have a toy that has been recalled for any reason, remove it from your child’s play area immediately.
Even if you keep all these guidelines in mind, you will find that they do not very much limit what toys are available to your child. A quick browse through the toy store or a search through any online toy retailer will show you that there is a very thriving market for toddler toys, and there is an incredible array of safe options.
Jamell Andrews is an accomplished writer who believes in the power of homeopathic medicine. She is a regular contributor to the Parenting Journals.