Toy sales peak during the holiday season. Each year at this time, hundreds of new toys flood the market. How can you tell which ones are safe and appropriate for your children and loved ones? The Nemours Foundation recommends the following age-based guidelines to determine appropriate developmental levels and help ensure that you’re buying the safest kinds of gifts this season:
"Some general guidelines to keep in mind when toy-shopping:
- 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.
For infants, toddlers and preschoolers:
- Look for toys that are sturdy enough to withstand pulling and twisting. Make sure that eyes, noses, buttons, and other parts that could break off are securely attached.
- Make sure squeeze toys, rattles, and teethers are large enough that they won’t become lodged in a child’s mouth or throat, even if squeezed into a smaller compressed shape.
- Avoid toys with cords or long strings, which could present strangulation hazards to young kids.
- Avoid thin plastic toys that might break into small pieces and leave jagged edges that could cut.
- Avoid marbles, coins, balls, and games with balls that are 1.75 inches (4.4 centimeters) in diameter or less because they present choking hazards.
- Bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and inline skates should never be used without helmets that meet current safety standards and other recommended safety gear, like hand, wrist and shin guards. Look for CPSC or Snell certification on the labels.
- Nets should be well constructed and firmly attached to the rim so that they don’t become strangulation hazards.
- Toy darts or arrows should have soft tips or suction cups at the end, not hard points.
- Toy guns should be brightly colored so they cannot be mistaken for real weapons, and kids should be taught to never point darts, arrows, or guns at anyone.
- BB guns or pellet rifles should not be given to kids under the age of 16.
- Electric toys should be labeled UL, meaning they meet safety standards set by Underwriters Laboratories.
Keeping toys safe at home:
- 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 broken toys or repair them right away.
- Store outdoor toys when they’re not in use so that they are not exposed to rain or snow."
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