During the month of December, you may be purchasing toys for children or have a child who will be receiving toys as gifts for the holidays. While children enjoy playing with all kinds of toys, many children are injured by a toy each year. It is estimated that 250,000 children were seen in a hospital emergency room for an injury from a toy in 2017.
In recognition of as Safe Toys and Celebrations Month in December, the Livingston Health Department has shared some tips to make sure the toys you are giving to children are safe.
- Make sure the toy is age appropriate. There should be a label on the toy that states the appropriate age range for the toy. However, just because your child’s age is within the stated range doesn’t mean that it is entirely appropriate. Take into consideration your child’s cognitive abilities and whether or not the toy could be a danger to them.
- Make sure there are no small parts. Check the parts on large toys, such as wheels on a toy car, to make sure they are unable to break off and present a choking hazard. Examine toys for loose parts and sharp edges before giving the toy to your child. For young children, the toy should be larger than their mouth to prevent choking.
- Be careful with balloons. Do not give balloons to children who are under age 8, because they could pop and become a choking hazard.
- Teach children to put away their toys. When toys are put away, they won’t become a tripping hazard.
- Avoid toys that make loud noises. Toys that play music, squeak, etc. can be too loud for some children, which can damage their hearing, especially if the toy is close to their ear.
- Batteries should be secure. Batteries can pose a serious risk to children. Make sure that if a toy needs batteries, the batteries are well secured with screws.
- Have your child wear a helmet. In New Jersey, children under the age of 17 are required to wear a helmet when using a bicycle, roller skates, scooters, or skateboards. Additional safety gear such as wrist and knee pads can offer extra protection. Instruct children to watch for motor vehicles and supervise children when they are using bicycles, roller skates, etc. near streets and driveways.
- Make sure riding toys are safe. Children who use riding toys should be able to sit up on them. Make sure that riding toys are stable and that children are fastened in well with any safety straps when using a riding toy.
- Keep toys separate. Keep toys that belong to older children away from younger children. Some toys designed for older children may not be suitable for younger children.
- Keep toys clean. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for keeping your child’s toys clean. Stuffed toys should be machine washable.
- Check toys for damage and recalls. Examine toys for any damage or rust. If a toy cannot be repaired, discard it. If one of your child’s toys is recalled, take the toy away from your child and follow the instructions for the recall. For information about toys that are recalled, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website at www.cpsc.gov or contact 800-638-2772 to report an unsafe toy.
- Make sure children are playing with toys properly. Teach children the right way to play with the toys they own so they don’t get hurt by misusing them.
The Livingston Health Department wishes you and your loved ones a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!