The holiday season is a time of lists: gift lists, naughty and nice lists, lists of family and friends who will be invited here and there. But as responsible consumers and parents, we also need to list out things that make for safe toys so that we can make the best shopping decisions.
With that in mind, people have tons of questions about what is really safe for their child when it comes to gifts, gadgets and other fun stuff to play with. Are balloons good to go this year? What about fidget spinners? Here are some safety-conscious shopping tips for toy-buying during the 2017 shopping season.
Some toy tips for the safety-conscious shopper
Pick an age-appropriate toy. Every toy sold in the United States will list a recommended age group, which parents and guardians should use as a guide for their children. For instance, the board game Monopoly says that it has a “Manufacturer recommended age: 8 Years and up.” That means little Johnny or Susan, who are both 6, probably wouldn’t grasp the concept of being ruthless landlords and sending friends and family members into bankruptcy quite yet. Oh, and there are some small pieces that could be a choking hazard younger kids.
Size matters — big is usually better: The smaller the toy, especially if it can be disassembled into several parts, the greater the hazard, leading safety experts say. Children could easily put these parts in their mouths, causing them to choke. “We found several toys that contain small parts, but do not have any warning label at all,” according to U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund’s 32nd annual Trouble in Toyland report. “These included a peg game, golf, and football travel games that we found at Dollar Tree,” the report says.
No long strings attached: Toys shouldn’t have strings longer than 12 inches, according to Baby Center, which says, “Once your child can climb up on his hands and knees, remove crib gyms and hanging mobiles from his crib. Be particularly vigilant about older toys.” Basically, long strings are choking hazards waiting to happen.
Smart toys may not be so smart: Smart toys have become the rage in recent years as technology has increasingly been targeted toward children. But many of these devices have been found to be easily hackable, allowing your kids to be tracked and their conversations eavesdropped on. As we’ve reported, some parents in Europe have even been urged to destroy their children’s smart devices.
Read, read, read: Before you buy a toy — or anything – it is imperative that you read the labels and the literature that come with it. The manufacturer is required by law to provide you with any requirements or qualifications needed to use their product. Reading the label will also get you familiar with any disclaimers on the toy, so you can make an informed decision before you buy.
In short, parents, it’s up to you to shop responsibly for your children. Safety is #1 — when we keep that in mind, we can all have fun!