It’s smart to be picky about the toys that you keep in your home. Playtime should be nothing but fun and games for you and your toddler, and the best way to guarantee this is to know what is and isn’t safe.
Here are some kinds of toys that are dangerous, and should be left these on the store shelves (or returned to the store if they’re gifts).
Small toys, or toys with small parts
You already know this one, but it bears repeating. Two words: choking hazard. This includes small toys, toys with small parts, games with marbles or small balls, coins, and even strings or nonsecure battery cases. Another potential choking hazard is the plastic covering that comes on some new toys. To the trash or donation center they go!
Of course it’s good to be thrifty and cut corners when possible. But toys that are broken, weak, or chipped pose a safety threat and should be thrown away.
Toys with sharp edges or a pinch point
We’re all familiar with the pain that comes with stubbing a toe or bumping into a sharp kitchen counter. Don’t keep toys around if they’re hard and have sharp edges, or if they have pieces that could pinch a child’s finger or skin.
Any toy that hurts your hearing when you hold it a foot away from your head could be damaging Baby‘s ears. If any of Baby‘s toys have a volume control, turn it way down. Wait until Baby is at least a teenager and going to her first concert before you have to worry about her hearing!
Art materials that don’t say ‘non-toxic’
You want to encourage the Van Gogh in Baby; we get that. But don’t keep any art materials that are not labeled nontoxic or phthalate-free. According to The Nemours Foundation, in the U.S. crayons and paints should say ‘ASTM D-4236’ somewhere on the package, because it guarantees that the product has been inspected by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Other countries may have other standards or inspection services to check art materials against.
Toys with strings or straps
Necklaces, cords, and ribbons are just a few examples of strings and straps that make a toy too dangerous for Baby right now.
This includes slingshots and any kind of toy gun or toy that shoots things.
Keeping toys in the family isn’t a bad idea, per se. It’s just that they might be too dangerous for Baby to play with right now. Old, rusty, flimsy toys, or anything that just doesn’t look safe probably belong far from Baby‘s reach for the time being – or better yet, keep them in a relative’s house. Painted toys from before 1978 may be decorated with lead paint, which should definitely be kept out of reach until Baby is past the stage where things that shouldn’t end up in her mouth.
Anything that’s been recalled
It helps to try and stay on top of toy recalls. This way you’ll be the first to know exactly what’s considered unsafe by current standards. The best place to go to learn about recalls and unsafe toys is www.cpsc.gov.
Too many toys
It sounds like a silly problem to have, but it can turn serious and dangerous when there are piles of toys lying around and something gets tipped over, for whatever reason. Make sure anti-tip devices are installed around your house, don’t stack toys on furniture, and donate excess toys that Baby doesn’t use.
What about flame resistant toys?
Fabric toys that don’t say ‘flame resistant’ can be a fire hazard, but on the other hand, there has been a question of whether or not the chemicals used to make toys flame resistant is dangerous to young children. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission still recommends looking for non-flammable, flame-resistant labels when buying toys, but just be aware of this risk and always practice habits that reduce the risk of fire.
- “Choosing Safe Toys.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, Mar 2014. Web.
- “Ingested Magnets Can Cause Serious Intestinal Injuries.” CPSC. Publication 5221 from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, n.d. Web.
- “Strings and Straps on Toys Can Strangle Young Children.” CPSC. Publication 5100 from theUS Consumer Product Safety Commission, n.d. Web.
- “Toy Safety.” SafeKids. Children’s National Health System, 2016. Web.
- “Good Toys for Young Children by Age and Stage.” NAEYC. National Association for the Education of Young Children, n.d. Web.
- CPSC. “Spring Home Improvements: Decorate, De-clutter and Prevent Deadly Tip Overs.” OnSafety. United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, Mar 2017. Web.
- “Which Toy for Which Child.” CPSC.