Parents, grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, and basically everyone in a child’s life often love spoiling them with toys. They watch with happy smiles as the child’s eyes light up as they enjoy their new playthings. However, parents must always be concerned about whether the toy will pose a safety hazard to their little ones. That doesn’t just go for toddlers, either. The electronics created for middle-aged kids and teens have their dangers as well. As a parent, you have a responsibility to ensure that your child’s toys are safe for them. Here’s how you can do so:
1 – Supervise as they play
It’s important to assess the safety of a toy by supervising them as they play. This is especially crucial for young kids playing with new toys. If they are able to play safely when you are present, they probably will be able to do so when you aren’t there as well.
2 – Pay close attention to toys connected to the internet
The internet is a connection to a whole different world. Parents should exercise caution when it comes to toys connected to the internet. Many televisions, tablets, voice-activated systems, and other smart devices have parental control options that you can use. This way, your child won’t have free rein over what they can access. Before you let your child play with a wifi-enabled toy, read up on what the toy uses the internet for, how it gathers data, and how it uses information. Some devices may be vulnerable to breaches and you definitely don’t want your child to be the victim.
When it comes to wifi-enabled toys, be proactive rather than reactive. Have your kids use such toys in common areas only and make sure they have restricted user profiles. Don’t give them unlimited access to the toy and see if you can filter or control what they can view on your internet plan.
3 – Make sure playthings are age-appropriate
Toys have age recommendations for a reason. Young kids shouldn’t play with things with small loose parts as such toys pose a choking hazard. Toddlers often put things in their mouths and some accidentally end up swallowing them. Protect your child by only allowing them to play with toys that are age-appropriate. You can test whether a toy is large enough by making sure it does not fit into the inside of a toilet paper roll. If it does, it probably isn’t safe for your child.
Older kids are not as likely to put small objects in their mouths, but you still have to make sure what they play with is age-appropriate. Check labels and ratings on their video games, board games, and more to ensure that the content is appropriate.
4 – Read the manual and the safety information
It’s important that you know what the toy is intended for and how it is to be used. Read the manual that comes with many toys to ensure your child can play with it safely. Make sure toys cannot be taken apart to pose a choking hazard and electronic devices don’t have ways to override the parental controls.
The safety information will go over the material used for the toys. You want to make sure that your kids’ toys are fire resistant, washable, and non-toxic. Look for the UL and ASTM D-4236 labels. The former guarantees that the toy has been tested for electrical safety while the latter ensures that the materials have passed the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials.
5 – Steer clear of outdated toys
Toy safety standards have changed a lot over the years. There are now more restrictions when it comes to potentially toxic materials in toys as well as increased durability standards. The toys of today have met more standards and are just safer. Keep the old heirloom toys stored away until the kids are older to appreciate and play with them safely.
6 – Use discretion when it comes to toy weapons
Some parents may choose to not let their kids play with toy weapons at all. Some do. This is perfectly fine, but it is important to ensure that all projectiles are soft and not painful. They should preferably be made of foam. Toy weapons should not look realistic. Opt for colorful NERF toy weapons that make it clear that this is a toy. Make sure your kid knows that they are not allowed to point a weapon at someone else.
Older kids often want bb guns, survival gear, and other things. You don’t necessarily have to rule them out. In fact, it may be better if you do allow them to have some but take advantage of the chance to make sure they learn proper weapon safely. Oftentimes if they don’t learn weapon safety early on, they risk hurting themselves or others when playing with their own or their friend’s gear. Make sure they have proper places to store them as well so younger siblings don’t get their hands on them.
7 – Require protective gear
A lot of children have moving toys such as scooters, bicycles, skateboards, and more. Require your kids to wear protective gear when playing with such toys and teach them safe riding habits so that they don’t get hurt. Invest in good helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and any other gear your child may need. Make sure all of their protective gear meets standards by looking for the CPSC or Snell certification.