Don’t you wish every time you bought a toy for your baby, there would be a toy safety checklist to ascertain that the toy is safe for them?
If there is one common thing amongst parents, it is that we all love buying toys for our babies.
Besides being fun, toys have many developmental benefits for your baby.
Sadly, not all toys are 100% safe for babies. That is why you often hear about toy recalls.
Even for famous and trustworthy brands, it seems there is always a chance for a safety mishap.
When buying toys, it’s very important to look for the safety risks a toy poses to your baby and how to avoid injury.
When considering what benefit the toy brings, look at the safety aspects as well.
Don’t wait to hear that your baby’s favorite toy has been recalled. Learn as much as you can about what to look for.
This will definitely minimize the chances of injury to your little one.
How do you know if a toy is safe?
It’s simpler to prevent injuries from toys if you know which hazards to look for and avoid.
I have compiled a toy safety checklist to help you choose safe toys for your baby.
Essential Toy Safety Checklist For Parents
Before thinking about buying toys, create a safe space for your baby to play in. This a crucial step to keep your baby safe while playing.
By now we know the statement “just because it’s labeled for baby doesn’t mean it’s safe for a baby” definitely holds true!
A lot of baby items in the stores are not completely safe for babies.
How can you keep your baby safe around toys?
The following is a toy safety checklist you can use when buying toys for your little one.
✔ Choose Age-Appropriate Toys
Choosing suitable toys according to your baby’s age is the first step to ensure safety.
Age guidelines on toys take into account baby development.
If a toy is labeled “not suitable for babies under 1-year old”, it means a 6 months old baby has not yet developed the skills to use the toy safely.
If you have any toddler or older kids at home, make it a point to separate their toys from your small baby’s.
Supervision is also crucial when your older kids play with your smallest.
As much as they mean well, their interaction may sometimes harm your little one i.e, your toddler out of pure love, might their little brother or sister on their push along car assuming the little sis or brother can hold on by themselves.
You also don’t want toys that are so rigid that they hurt your baby if they happen hit themselves on the face.
✔ Don’t Give Stuffed Animal Toys To Small Babies
Stuffed toys are synonymous with small babies. People bring them along to congratulate a new mommy on her birth. And they mean absolutely no harm!
The funny thing is that most of these stuffed toys are labeled “not for use for children under 3 years old”
As cute as they are, stuffed animal toys pose a risk of suffocation for small babies.
The most common place you will find these items is in the nursery on the crib, or next to your baby’s carry cot.
If you follow safe baby sleep guidelines, you will know that nothing should be inside your baby’s crib when they sleep.
There is a high possibility that a small baby can roll onto these stuffed toys, squeeze their face against them and struggle to pull themselves back, leading to suffocation.
It’s best to wait until your baby has reached the recommended age to use stuffed animal toys.
Even during times when your baby is awake, they are still at risk if it happens that the toy ends up being stuck against their face.
This is why supervising your baby is always crucial.
✔ Toys With A Choking Hazard
Always choose toys that are not small enough to get into your baby’s mouth.
An object that is less than 3cm (1,25 inches) wide and less than 6cm (2,25 inches) can choke a baby (source).
You can also make use of a toilet paper tube to check if the object is large enough. If it fits inside the tube then it is not safe.
You should inspect toys to check if they don’t contain small loose parts. If they do, make sure the loose parts are well secured inside so that they don’t pose a choking risk for your little one.
Again, always supervise your baby if they are playing with such toys. That way, if it happens that the toy breaks, you are there to prevent your baby from putting the small loose items into their mouth.
You also want to hold off on marbles, small balls that can fit into your baby’s mouth, batteries, and buttons.
Battery-operated toys should have a casing that is safely secured with tight screws so your small baby cannot access the batteries. Batteries can also overheat while a toy is in use.
Coins are also a choking hazard.
When we grew up we would often have relatives come over and they would give us coins because they were so happy to see us! Of course, they meant well but that was so risky.
Balloons are also one of the most dangerous items you can give to your baby.
If you can’t avoid them altogether, like if you attend a party, etc, make sure your baby doesn’t come into contact with them.
Keep your baby away from balloons for as long as possible. At least until they are 8 years old.
Toys with detachable part (i.e. stuffed animals with noses and eyes, etc) also pose a risk of choking.
Since babies put everything in their mouths, there is a risk that a baby can swallow magnets if they are within their reach.
Toys with magnets are best avoided as there is always a chance that the magnets may come off and a baby can access them.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, If a baby swallows two or more magnets, they can stick together inside a baby’s intestines and cause serious injury.
✔ Long Strings And Cords On Toys
Avoid buying items with cords and long strings for your baby as they pose a strangulation hazard.
If the string finds its way to your baby’s neck, they might try to pull it and end up accidentally tying the string around their neck.
If a toy does have strings, they should not be long enough to get tied around your little one’s neck.
✔ Riding Toys
Riding toys without a safety harness are not suitable for babies who can’t maintain a firm grip and can’t control their body movements.
They tip over, bump into walls and other objects. Babies can also easily fall on these products.
It is important to wait until your baby can sit unsupported before having them playing on a riding toy.
✔ Loud Toys
Toys with loud music or squeaks, rattles and squeezes can damage your baby’s hearing if used for extended periods of time.
If you purchase such a toy, ensure that it’s never too close to your baby’s ears to protect them.
✔ Easy To Clean
After each use, your baby’s toys need proper cleaning to remove dirt and germs.
Babies put everything in their mouths. Similarly, babies drop things on the ground. It’s just how they are.
While you can wipe clean toys after your little one drops them on the ground, you need the assurance that all the dirt and built-up saliva get thoroughly cleaned up when putting them away after playtime.
This is why you need to choose toys that you can easily clean to remove germs.
Plastic toys can be wiped clean, but fabric ones cannot be thoroughly cleaned with just wiping. This makes fabric toys that cannot be washed unsuitable for babies.
Avoid toys that have small, inaccessible parts where your fingers can’t reach to clean, but your little baby’s tongue can.
✔ Durable And Resistant
It’s important to buy toys that can resist basic wear and tear from your baby’s chewing as well as everyday use.
Definitely stay away from items with colors that come off, toys that are brittle and easily broken when dropped onto the ground.
On that note, you will want to steer clear of baby toys made from glass as they break easily and can cut your baby.
✔ Non-Toxic Chemicals
Toys containing toxic chemicals such as Lead, BPA, PVC and Phthalates, Formaldehyde, and flame retardant chemicals have been banned.
When buying toys for your baby, check the label and see if there is a note about the toy not containing any of the above chemicals.
These chemicals are harmful and can ultimately harm your baby’s health. Read more about how they harm your baby and how you can avoid them here.
✔ Avoid Electric Toys
Electric toys are a burning hazard. They can heat up while in use and cause burns to your baby.
Toys with electrical cords don’t only pose a risk of electrocution, but they are also a strangulation hazard.
Electronic toys with screens are said to negatively affect baby’s development.
✔ Shooting Toys
Toys with a shooting mechanism or projectiles can hurt your baby’s eyes if they shoot them towards their face. They can also hurt other babies nearby if projected at them.
Make use of baby safety glasses if your baby is going to be playing with shooting toys.
✔ Small Openings
Toys that can trap your baby’s hands or fingers in between can cause injury to your little one.
Choose toys that do have openings for your baby to grasp onto. However, don’t pick toys with openings that are small enough to trap your baby’s fingers or openings big enough for those little hands to get stuck in.
✔ Pointing Parts And Sharp Edges
Some toys have pointing parts which can hurt your baby should they fall on top of them.
If the material is soft and your baby is guaranteed to be safe when falling onto those areas, you can supervise.
But what happens if they fall onto their face? Those pointing parts might go into the eyes or mouth.
Sharp edges are also not ideal on baby toys. The should also be no exposed rough or cut surfaces with the potential to cut your baby’s little hands.
Quick Tips For Toy Safety
In addition to this toy safety checklist, use the following tips to ensure your baby is safe while playing with their toys:
- Create a safe play area for your baby in your home
- Always supervise your baby during playtime.
- Pack aways toys everyday and don’t leave them lying around as they pose a tripping risk.
- Store toys in a safe area where your baby can safely access them.
- Make use of a safe toy box that makes it impossible for your baby to get locked inside without you knowing,
- Regularly inspect toys to check if they are still suitable for use.
- Properly inspect second-hand toys to ensure they are safe for your baby to use.
- Clean toys daily before your baby uses them.
- Take note of how to care for your baby’s toys. Are they suitable for washing? Should you avoid direct sunlight? Do you need to supervise all the time when your baby is playing with the toys?
- Don’t hang toys over the cot or crib that can pose a strangulation hazard for your baby while sleeping.
- Choose toys with different stimulation and developmental benefits for your baby i.e. sensory skills, motor skills, etc. Rotate them on a regular basis.
- Report any safety issues with toys. It can help save other babies from the danger
- Always be informed on recent Recalls for baby items (check Consumer Product Safety Commission) Besides baby toys, you can also check for any baby products that may have been recalled.
Choosing Safe Toys For Your Baby
Buying safe toys for your baby might seem complicated. But it’s not.
Whenever you want to buy a toy, check its safety and use this checklist to be sure that it is suitable for your little one.
You will notice that even when you have picked an age-appropriate toy, there are still some safety concerns to check-out.
This makes picking safe toys for babies a little tricky.
However, while it takes a bit more effort than just going to the shops and buying a few toys you think your baby will like, it does get easy with practice.
This toy safety checklist will definitely make buying toys for your baby effortless.