The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) works to keep us all safe by regulating imports of toys and other products that could be harmful. They also handle recalls of toys that are found to be dangerous. They report that well over 150,000 emergency room treated injuries every year are toy related. It’s important to be aware of things to look out for when purchasing toys for kids. Check out cpsc.gov for more information.
Always check age recommendations on packages. All instructions stating age limits such as “Not recommended for children under 3” should be strictly adhered to. These toys contain parts that can be a choking hazard. If there’s an age recommendation for 8 years or older, there is more leeway here. Many 8 year old children can handle toys for ages 10-12 or above but some cannot. Use your best judgement or consult the parents.
Children less than a year old will always put toys in their mouth. Soft blocks and stuffed animals are always good choices. Children 1-3 can handle more but much care needs to be taken. The most important thing is to look out for choking and suffocating hazards. Toys with straps or pull strings are dangerous for kids under 3. Young children cannot untwist a string or strap from around their neck. It only takes a few pounds of pressure to constrict blood vessels and children can suffocate quickly.
Small magnets are found in everything from greeting cards to remotes, light-up shoes, and jewelry. They are extremely dangerous when swallowed. They can burn a child internally in as little as 60 minutes. They are also found in some toys; so pay close attention.
Booksare never dangerous! Every child (no matter what age!) can appreciate a good book. With everyone looking to electronics now, it’s important to instill the love of reading a real book into our children. A gift certificate to a good bookstore is a great gift too! Make a trip after Christmas to spend an hour in a bookstore; it’s great fun for the whole family!
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO