Toy Safety: Playing Smart

by Ann Douglas

toy safetyThis year's toy recalls are a powerful reminder that toy safety can't be taken for granted. In addition to keeping tabs on product safety recalls, parents and caregivers need to be alert to the following toy-related hazards:

Choking: Toys with small parts or pieces that can break off or be removed pose a choking hazard to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Certain types of toy packaging (e.g., foam chips and twist ties) also pose a choking hazard).

Strangulation: Toys with cords long enough to become wrapped around a child's neck pose a strangulation risk. Be particularly cautious of cords that stretch. It's easy to underestimate cord length. Latex balloons (including broken balloons) and toy packaging (plastic bags and plastic wrap) also pose a suffocation risk.

Hearing damage: Toys that make loud noise can damage a child's hearing.

Cuts: Toys with sharp edges or sharp points can result in cuts or other injuries.

Falls and tumbles: Toddlers and preschoolers require careful supervision when they are using ride-on toys. These toys should be used in a safe area -- away from stairs and other hazards like traffic.

To minimize the risk of injury to your child, choose an age-appropriate toy; carefully inspect the toy to see if there are any loose parts (e.g., eyes, nose, wheels, or other small parts that can be removed) or other hazards (long cords, toys that make loud noises, toys with sharp points or edges); dispose of all packaging immediately; teach your child how to use a toy safely; check toys frequently for signs of wear and discard any broken toys promptly.

Ann Douglas is the author of numerous books about pregnancy and parenting including the bestselling "The Mother of All Pregnancy Books." She regularly contributes to a number of print and online publications, is frequently quoted in the media on a range of parenting-related topics, and has appeared as a guest on a number of television and radio shows. Ann and her husband Neil live in Peterborough, Ontario. with the youngest of their four children. Learn more at her site, having-a-baby.com.

Copyright © Ann Douglas. Permission to publish granted to Pregnancy.org.