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5 Ways to Avoid Unsafe Toys

July 31, 2014

By Noralba Martinez

5 Tips to Avoid Unsafe Toys | Photo of a toy with a close up of the warning label that reads: Warning: Choking hazard. Small parts. Not for children under 3 years.

Buying toys is so much fun. I love to buy toys for children’s birthdays and usually stay away from gift cards or cash. While it’s fun to buy gifts, I am very careful when purchasing toys for children. There are many things to look out for when purchasing a toy. Here are five tips to avoid buying unsafe toys.

  1. Consider Age. Always look for the recommended age on the toy’s packaging. Remember that a child under three years old continues to have a tendency of putting objects in his or her mouth. Make sure that you purchase a toy that is intended for your child’s age.
  2. Look for Small Parts. Inspect the toy and see if it contains parts that can easily come off. If they are off the toy, can these parts fit through a toilet paper roll? The diameter of a toilet paper roll is similar to the mouth and esophagus of your child. The loose part is a choking hazard if it goes through the roll.
  3. Buy BPA-Free Plastic. BPA, also known as bisphenol A, is a chemical that has been used in the production of certain plastics since the 1960s. Some research experts found that exposure to BPA may cause health effects on brain development, behavior, and the prostate gland of a child, even in infants and fetuses. Look for BPA-free labels on toys you plan to buy.
  4. Avoid Batteries. Battery-operated toys are fun, but there is always a risk of shock, battery acid leakage, or choking. Make sure you inspect the toy and ensure that your child cannot get to the battery (these toys should have a safety door that requires a screwdriver to access the battery). Button batteries are smaller, more powerful (most are made of lithium), and therefore dangerous. If swallowed, they can send an electric current through the body that can cause a severe burn if not treated quickly. Try to especially avoid these batteries.
  5. Natural is Best. Look for labels that indicate organic or natural base dyes/coloring. Stay away from heavy-painted toys, toys containing glass, and fragile toys. Simple wooden blocks are still fun—kids use their imaginations and build amazing structures and stories to go with them.

Remember to consider these and other tips for finding safe toys. There are different concerns depending on the age range of the toy, so do some research before you buy.

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