Around the world, December is by far the biggest gift-giving month of the year. It’s exciting as an adult to stroll down the toy aisle and relive some of that childhood magic you once experienced. Of course, you want to pick out the coolest, most exciting toy for the child in your life, but it’s important to remember safety when picking out a present. In the United States, December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month and is meant to spread awareness about toy safety and how you can check for yourself that the gifts you are buying are safe and age appropriate. Even over the past few years, the rules and regulations surrounding toy safety have greatly improved, so feel safe knowing that the products on the shelves are more likely than not safe for your child. However, there are still ways for you to check and make sure you’re providing the safest toy possible to the child you’re buying for.
The first thing you should do before buying a toy or before letting your child play with a toy they received from someone else is to closely inspect it. Be on the lookout for toys that have sharp edges or points and do not seem sturdy enough to withstand any kind of impact. If they look or feel like they can easily break, shatter, or pull apart avoid letting your child play with them. You should also stay away from any kind of toy that shoots or includes parts that fly off.
In addition to inspecting the toy itself, it’s also extremely important to read over the toy’s packaging to make sure that it is age appropriate. On the packaging, you should see indicators of the toy’s age level, skill level, and developmental appropriateness. This is very important when you’re buying gifts for children of different ages. You want to make sure what you’re buying is age appropriate and avoid any kind of issues that may arise from toys meant for older or younger children.
The American Society for Testing and Materials Standards is an organization that works to identify and set safety standards for all kinds of products we buy as consumers. On toys, you should look for a label that indicates it passed some type of safety inspection. More often than not you will see that it passed “ATSM” testing. When you see this on the package for a toy you’re buying, know that it has passed rigorous safety inspections and should be safe for the age range identified.
Another safety standard you should keep in mind when purchasing your holiday gifts this year are to stay away from toys with small parts. This can mean anything from a magnet to a “button” battery. It’s best to avoid toys like these all together, especially when buying for young children. As a general rule-of-thumb, if the piece can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not safe or appropriate for kids under the age of three. Children this age are exploring the world with their mouth and tend to stick everything they come in contact with in their mouths, so it’s best to avoid toys with small parts all together for this age group.
The holiday season is one of the most exciting times of the year. Nothing is better than seeing a child light up at the sight of the new toy given to them. So, make sure this time of the year is joyful for all and follow the guidelines outlined for National Safe Toys and Gifts Month. For more safety recommendations, visit this link.