Toys are part of the everyday life of children. However, some may put them at risk. Many children end up in emergency rooms every year because of injuries, cuts, fractures and choking around the use of toys. It is therefore important to make sure that the toys that your little one is having fun with are safe.
How to make sure a toy is safe?
Before 3 years
- Avoid any toy that has small parts (dice, miniature toy, puzzle pieces). By putting it in his mouth, your child can block his airways and choke.
- Be careful when your toddler is playing with older children, as some of their toys may also be a choking hazard (eg, Lego bricks, cars, small board games, balls).
- Respect the age recommended by manufacturers on toy packaging. In this way, you make sure that the toys are appropriate and safe for your child.
- Make sure the eyes, nose and other small accessories on the doggies and dolls are securely attached. Before 3 years, these elements should rather be embroidered so that the child can not tear them off.
Make sure that the toys to be pressed do not contain any sound or vibrating device that could come loose.
- Avoid teething toys and soft vinyl rattles because they contain toxic substances (PVC) that can be absorbed by your baby if he puts them in his mouth a lot.
How can I tell if a toy is too small for a child?
To make sure that something is big enough to be handled by a child under 3 years old, see if this item can fit on a roll of toilet paper. If so, this item represents a choking hazard for your child.
For children of all ages
- Opt for washable, non-toxic and unbreakable toys. Favor solid toys with no sharp or sharp edges.
- If your toddler is over 3 years old and has many items in his mouth, do not let him play with small toys.
- Regularly evaluate the condition of your child’s toys to identify any possible danger (eg, loose or broken parts, sharp edges).
- Repair or dispose of loose or broken toys.
- If the toy has batteries, check that the battery compartment cannot be opened by your child.
Avoid exposing your child too often to sound toys in order to avoid damage to his hearing.
- After opening the box of a new toy, dispose of any packaging immediately (eg, plastic bags and wrappings, Styrofoam, pins, and fasteners). Also, discard the temporary plastic film on toy mirrors, which is used to protect them during transportation. Your child may choke or choke on these items.
If you receive or buy a used toy, make sure it has not been a recall on the site
Watch out for dangerous toys
The foam toys (eg. Balls, characters) should be avoided in children of 3 years or less because they could tear and choke on the pieces.
The projectile toys and those equipped with propulsion parts (eg. Toys that have a mechanism for the ride), popular with preschoolers, can hurt your baby, especially in the eyes. If your child is having fun with such a toy, teach him to never direct him to a person.
Avoid toys with long ropes that could wrap around your child’s neck and strangle him.
Keep magnetic toys and products on which small magnets are affixed out of reach of your toddler. Be careful, because small magnets are now found in some children’s toys (eg puzzles, construction toys, figurines, dolls and train sets). Seek immediate medical attention if your child has swallowed or may have swallowed a magnet.
Do you have to wash your child’s toys?
Toys should be cleaned occasionally, as well as items your toddler sticks to most of his hands or mouth (eg, door handles, refrigerator handle).
To learn how to clean the different types of toys, consult our Clean the Toys sheet.
Common objects that should not become toys
If some household objects (cardboard boxes, wooden spoons, plastic containers, handbag, resistant plastic mirror …) can become fun toys for your toddler, other common objects carry risks. and should not be put in his hands. Here are a few.
- Inflatable balloons are to be closely watched, as uninflated balloons and pieces of ballooned balloons represent a significant risk of suffocation. If a balloon bursts, for example at a children’s party, discard all the pieces immediately.
- Newsprint and catalog pages should not be used as toys by your toddler. He could easily tear them up and bring them to his mouth. The paper could then obstruct his airways. For this reason, prefer hardback books, made especially to withstand curious little hands.
- Plastic bags (eg, original toy packaging, plastic wrap covering dry-cleaned garments, grocery bags) must not be used as toys or storage for them. To store toys, go for cardboard boxes. Upon arrival at home, discard plastic bags or knot them before putting them in the recycling bin. By eliminating plastic bags from your child’s environment, you avoid the risk of choking or suffocation.
- Small items, such as pennies, paper clips, pen caps or felt pens, jewelry, hair clips, screws, buttons, keys, candies, chewing gums, should be kept out your toddler’s reach if he is under 3 years old, as he could put them in his mouth and choke.
For safe homemade toys
When making toys for your child yourself, make sure they are strong and safe.
- If you want to sew a plush toy for your child, use a strong, good quality yarn. So, even if your toddler pulls hard, the seams will resist and the padding will not escape. To stuff the plush, a quality stuffing, polyester, is preferable to the leftover fabric.
- Embroider the eyes of the dolls and doggies you make rather than sewing buttons, as they can easily come off. For the same reason, also embroider their nose and mouth instead of using a self-adhesive or fusible interlining.
- Take care of the quality of fabric dyeing, as some are made with a poor quality dye. Since young children carry everything to their mouths, you could see them wince. Tip: “taste” the fabric to evaluate the quality of the dye.
- If you want to make a toy box, make ventilation holes to avoid the risk of suffocation in case your child is hiding there. The hinges must be of good quality and rigid to avoid neck injuries caused by the fall of a cover too heavy. Moreover, the lid should be light and easy to lift from the inside.
- On wooden toys, avoid leaving edges on which your child could get hurt. Opt instead for slightly rounded shapes. Use a non-toxic paint or varnish specifically designed to cover children’s items.
All cloth and stuffed toys, whether homemade or purchased, should be kept away from radiators, stoves, fireplaces, or other sources of heat. Otherwise, they could catch fire and cause injury or property damage.
- Regular inspection of your toddler’s toys is necessary to ensure they remain safe.
- Be careful with everyday objects that your child can turn into toys. Some may represent a danger to him.
- Before offering a toy to your child, rely on the indications of age on the box, but also his habits, because if he still carries many objects to his mouth, he is not ready for toys planned for ages 3 and up that contain small parts.