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Choosing Safe Toys For School-Age Children

Each year, hospital emergency departments treat many children for toy-related injuries. With so many toys on the market and new ones being added every day, it is important that you make sure that the toys your child plays with are safe.

Manufacturers follow recommendations and classify most new toys with labels that indicate the specific age for which they are intended.

What to look for

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 be covered with 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 toys can be as loud as a car horn (even louder if the child puts it directly to the ear) and can cause hearing damage.

And whenever you buy a new toy, consider 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. But the age at which the toys are intended is determined by safety factors, not by the intelligence or maturity of the child.

  • Bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and skates should never be used without helmets that meet current safety standards and other recommended safety equipment, such as hand, wrist, and shin guards. Look for CPSC or Snell certifications on the labels.
  • Nets must be well made and firmly attached to the edge so that they do not become a choke hazard.
  • Toy guns should be brightly colored so that they cannot be mistaken for real weapons, and children should be taught never to point a dart, arrow, or gun at another person.

Electric toys must have the UL label, which means they meet Underwriters Laboratories safety standards.