Billions of toys to amuse children of all ages are sold each year in the US. Unfortunately, toys also are associated with thousands of injuries each year, some of which result in death. Children under age 3 are especially at risk for injury from toys. Injuries can range from falling, choking, strangulation, burning, drowning, and even poisoning. However, the leading cause of toy-related death is choking, usually on latex balloons.
Injury often results when a toy is misused or used by children who are too young for that particular toy. An example is a toy with small parts, designed for older children, which can cause choking when those small parts are ingested by a curious toddler.
Knowing what dangers are associated with certain toys and age groups can help you better protect your child from toy injuries. When selecting toys for your child, consider the following recommendations:
- Choose toys that are age-appropriate and meet your child's skill level and interest (read the toy's labeling).
- Avoid using latex balloons as much as possible and use mylar balloons instead.
- Make sure toys are used in safe environments, such as keeping a riding toy away from stairs.
- Be involved in your child's play.
- Store toys intended for older children separately from toys used by younger children.
- Use a small parts tester to determine which small toys or parts are a choking hazard to children under age 3. A small parts tester allows for small objects to be inserted - if the object fits, it is a choking hazard.
- Check toys regularly for damage and other hazards.
- Stay up-to-date on toy recalls through the US Consumer Product Safety Commission website.
Supervising your child's play, in addition to following the recommendations made by toy manufactures could save lives. Listed in the directory below is additional information related to toy safety.