What should parents look for when purchasing toys? While cheaper toys are more likely to present hazards or be unsafe this may not always be the case. As parents we should always be checking new toys and existing toys to ensure they are and also continue to be fit for purpose!
The 5 S's of Toy Safety
Look out for small parts! If your new toy is smaller than a ping pong ball, golf ball or a part can fit into a 35 mm film canister then its regarded as a small part and represents a potential choking hazard for your child. If a toy can also be broken into small parts easily then it is not suitable for toddlers and children under 3. Toys containing small parts should have a warning label that they are not suitable for children under 3. Ensure any toys with button batteries are secure so they cannot be accessed. Button batteries do considerable damaged to little people if swallowed and can result in death if not treated urgently.
Be wary of products that have sharp, hard edges or because of their shape can still be swallowed. Avoid toys where little fingers can be pinched or inserted to cause injury.
As we know strings, cords and ropes represent a choking hazard with little ones. I will never forget having to cut wool from my child's neck after he managed to find and unravel a ball of wool, wrap it around his neck and became entangled. Pull along toys and those designed for children under 3 should not have strings greater than 30cm long. While a skipping rope is a fantastic present for an older sibling, just remember that in the wrong hands it can also be a potential strangulation hazard for a child under 3.
Check that all painted surfaces are in good condition and are not chipped or flaking. Better quality toys have better paint jobs and a smoother surface. The use of non-toxic, paint is a legal requirement and it should be stated on the packaging.
There is no substitute for adult supervision and we should never become complacent especially when we have toddlers that like to taste test everything!
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