Safe Play Tips from the TTPM Editors
Toys in the U.S. are safer today than at any time in history. Increased regulation, increased testing and an industry-and-nation-wide focus on safe play means that not only are the toys safer, but parents and caregivers are paying more attention and ensuring that kids have fun and stay safe.
Common sense is probably your best asset in this effort, as is making sure to monitor kids’ play and make sure that they are always supervised.
Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to get kids in the habit of picking up their toys. Did you know that the most common toy-related injury is people tripping over toys that have been left out? True.
To help you in your efforts to keep playtime safe and fun, here are some tips you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Buy age appropriate toys, which means following manufacturer’s on-package age grading. If you’re buying for a 3-year-old, don’t select a toy that is for ages 6 and up. Parents like to think their child is smarter and more physically coordinated than other children. This is a mistake gift givers often make. Age guidelines are there for safety reasons to address issues like small parts. They are not a marker of your child’s intelligence. Read the box and follow age guidelines!
- When there are children of multiple ages in your home, make sure the younger child doesn’t have access to the older sibling’s toys. If you have older children, you must have them store their toys away from younger siblings. This isn’t always easy to do, but important to have an older child understands that it’s necessary for the family well-being.
- Read the instructions. It only takes about 5 minutes, but will make the whole experience better and safer. (And if you’re assembling something, it will go more easily and the end result will be as it’s designed to be.) Itallys also a good habit to teach children for the other aspects of their lives.
- Regularly check toys for signs of wear or breakage. Take away any toys that seem to be in bad repair or worse for the wear.
- Think seriously about whether or not you’re going to purchase secondhand toys. It may be attractive to find things at a garage sale or resale shop, but as with virtually any purchases, warranties only extend to the original purchaser.
- Monitor children’s play. There is no replacement for your supervision.
- For bicycles, ride-ons, skateboarding or other types of active play, be sure to purchase correctly fitting protective items and insist that children wear them at all times when engaging in the activities.
- Use toys according to their directions and their intended uses. Do not try to modify toys for any reason. This both voids your warranty and can cause unexpected risks.
- Throw away the packaging. The manufacturer’s customer service number and website is on the instructions, no need to keep the box or packing materials.
- Stay informed. Although toys from U.S. manufacturers meet the highest safety standards in the world, recalls happen. If you hear about a recall, check the recall list from the CPSC and follow their instructions.