December: Safe Toys and Gifts Month
With the holiday season approaching, your thoughts may be turning to
shopping for toys and gifts. You’ll want to get the children in your life their
favorite toys, and there are thousands of toys to choose from in stores and
you make those purchases remember to consider the safety and age-range
of the toys. In 2007 alone, toy makers recalled over 19 million toys
worldwide because of safety concerns such as lead paint and small
magnets. In 2005, there were over 200,000 toy-related injuries.
injuries, choose toys that are safe for the age of the child.Look for
labels to help you judge which toys might not be safe,especially for
infants and children under age three. For children of all ages, consider
if the toys are suited to their skills and abilities. Even within the child’s age range, toys
suitable for one child might not be suitable for another child. It’s good to
keep in mind that younger children, if they’re not being watched closely, may
play with toys purchased for older children. Below are some guidelines for
choosing safe toys for all ages:
for toys that have a solid design and a sturdy construction—toys that won’t
break, crush, or be pulled apart easily.
to see if the instructions are clear.
the labels to see if there are any fire hazards.
for labels that assure you the toys have passed a safety inspection—ASTM means
the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials standards.
knowing what kinds of toys to choose, it’s important to know what kinds of toys
to avoid in order to prevent possible injuries. For example, do not choose:
Toys with small parts and sharp edges and points.
- Guns and other toys that shoot flying objects and make loud
- Crayons and markers that are not labeled nontoxic.
- Toys that could shatter into fragments if broken.
- Toys with ropes and cords.
- Electric toys with heating elements.
Toys imported from other
countries and older toys may have high levels of lead in the paint or in the
plastic. Because of normal hand-to-mouth activity, children can expose
themselves to lead paint or dust. Even small amounts of lead can harmful to
your child. It’s hard to know exactly what toys might be dangerous, but here
are a few tips to help you protect your kids from lead exposure from toys:
yourself about lead exposure from toys.
your children wash their hands frequently.
shopping, look to see what kinds of toys have been recalled.
aware that old toys may contain lead in the paint.
Call your health care provider if you suspect that your child has
been exposed to lead. Most children have no symptoms, but some children may be
irritable, show aggressive behavior, have little appetite or energy, or
complain of headaches. Children exposed to a high dose of lead may have
abdominal pain and cramps.
For information on toys and childhood lead exposure, visit www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/faq/toys.htm.
More information about lead poisoning and its symptoms can be
found at www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002473.htm
Sources: American Academy of
Pediatrics, National Network for Child Care, Nemours Foundation, Prevent
Blindness America, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.