Shopping for toys can be exciting and fun, but it can also be frustrating. There might be thousands of toys to choose from in just one store, and it's important to choose an appropriate toy for your child's age. Use the age ratings for toys as a reference. But carefully consider your child's own developmental abilities. These ratings may not be based on safety, but rather the appeal to particular ages.
- Children under 3 tend to put everything in their mouths, so you should avoid buying toys that may have small parts that pose a choking danger; a good rule to follow: if the toy or part of the toy fits through a cardboard toilet paper holder, it is a choking hazard
- Avoid toys that have sharp edges and points; these could injure the eyes
- Make sure that all directions or instructions are clear to you and, when appropriate, to the child
- Always look for quality design and construction in all toys
- A pull string or rope on a toy poses a risk of strangulation to a young child; pull toys can be fun, but the child should not be left alone with it
- Some electronic toys are very loud and could potentially damage a child's hearing; if it hurts your own ear, it's probably too loud
- Plastic wrappings on toys should be discarded immediately; they could become a suffocation hazard
- Toy boxes should also be checked for safety; use a toy chest that has a lid that will stay open in any position to which it is raised, and will not fall unexpectedly on a child; for extra safety, be sure there are ventilation holes for fresh air
Careful toy selection and proper supervision of children at play is the best way to protect children from toy-related injuries.
For questions about childhood health and development, call the St. Louis Children's Hospital Answer Line at 314.454.KIDS (5437) or 800.678.KIDS (5437).
Pediatricians on staff at Progress West HealthCare Center or call the Physician Referral Line at 636.344.CARE (2273).