Safety is the most important consideration when selecting toys. The fact is, some toys can be accidents waiting to happen.
- Make sure that any item -- or any removable part of an item -- is no less than 11/4 inches in any dimension so that it cannot be swallowed or produce gagging.
- Avoid anything with sharp corners, jagged edges, or pointy protrusions.
- Avoid toys made with straight pins, sharp wires, nails, and other dangerous materials.
- Check to make sure that all materials and paints used in the production of any item are safe (not glass or brittle plastic) and labeled nontoxic.
- Stuffed toys should be labeled "nonflammable," "flame resistant," or "flame retardant," as well as "washable."
- Check for durability and sturdy construction. Don't be shy about removing a toy from its box and giving it a good going-over. If it can be broken into little pieces, if buttons or other decorations can be torn off without too much effort, or if parts can pinch or trap fingers or catch hair, the toy is potentially dangerous.
- Regulations go a long way toward protecting your child from unsafe playthings, but they are not an absolute guarantee. It is always possible that a slightly defective item will slip past the safety checks and end up in a store. Moreover, many toys from other countries are not subject to such regulations and many toys that were produced before the regulations went into effect end up on more informal markets, such as garage sales or flea markets. Before purchasing any plaything for your baby, give it a good going-over yourself to make sure that all safety factors are in order.
- Check toys periodically to make sure they are in good repair. An item that passes all safety checks at the time of purchase can immediately become a serious hazard as soon as it is broken, chipped, or otherwise damaged.
We've covered how to make smart and safe purchases on many of the items you'll commonly buy for your youngster. Now go and enjoy them.