Choosing Safe Toys

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) monitors and regulates toys very closely. Since 1995, all toys that are made in the United States, or those that are imported, must meet CPSC standards.

  • Cloth toys must be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Stuffed toys must be washable.
  • Painted toys must have lead-free paint.
  • Art products must indicate that they are non-toxic.

Stay away from older toys, even those passed on to you by friends and family. These toys may not meet current safety standards.

And make sure a toy is not too noisy for your child. The noise from some electronic or musical toys, sound toys, and rattles can be as loud as a car horn (even louder if the child puts it directly to the ear) and can cause hearing damage.

The right toys for the right ages

Always read labels to make sure a toy is age appropriate for the child. Recommendations published by the CPSC and other groups can help you make purchasing decisions.

Whenever you buy a new toy, be sure to take into account your child’s temperament, habits, and behavior. Even a child who seems advanced in relation to other children his age should not use toys for older children. The age at which the toys are intended is determined by safety factors, not by the intelligence or maturity of the child.

Keeping toys safe at home

After buying safe toys, it is also important to make sure that children know how to use them. The best way to do this is to supervise children while they play. In this way, you will teach children to play safely and have fun at the same time.

Parents should do the following:

  • Teach children to put away their toys.
  • Check toys regularly to make sure they are not broken or unusable:
  • Wooden toys should not have splinters.
  • Bicycles and toys for outdoor use should be free of rust.
  • Stuffed toys should not have torn seams or removable parts.
  • Throw away broken toys or repair them immediately.
  • Store toys for outdoor use when not in use so they are not exposed to rain or snow.

And be sure to keep the toys clean. Some plastic toys are dishwasher safe, but you should read the manufacturer’s instructions first. Another possibility is to mix antibacterial soap or a mild dish soap with hot water in a spray bottle and use this mixture to clean the toys and then rinse them.