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Safe toys for kids this Christmas

Michelle Maffei is a freelance copywriter covering a variety of topics both online and in print, from parenting to beauty and more. Combining her two favorite loves, writing and motherhood, she has found joy in even the most challenging ...

How to buy safe toys

The holiday season is in full swing and toys are flying off the shelves like hotcakes. But how can you tell if the most popular toys you are buying are safe toys? With the amount of recalled toys on the rise, it may seem like buying toys is a gamble. To ensure that you are buying the safest toys, read these guidelines for buying safe toys for kids this Christmas.

toys

Safest toys at Christmas

According to the U.S. PIRG's 25th Annual Survey of Toy Safety, the safest toys are lead- and phthalates-free, do not pose a choking hazard and are age-appropriate.

Among the hottest toys for Christmas 2010, babies will go gaga over safe toys such as the following:

  • Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes, which boasts a volume switch
  • Playskool Explore and Grow Busy Ball Popper with large plastic balls that are too big to fit into baby's mouth
  • Skip Hop Treetop Friends Hug and Hide Owl Activity Toy, which meets or exceeds ASTM, CPSIA, EN71 and applicable safety standards.

For preschoolers, you can fill up your sleigh with battery-powered toys that secure battery access by requiring a screw driver to remove the cover. Consider the following:

  • VTech eReader
  • Fisher Price Sing-a-ma-jigs
  • Fisher-Price Dance Star Mickey
  • Fisher-Price Imaginext BIGFOOT the Monster

When it comes to the safest toys for big kids, the 2010 top toys for Christmas include the following:

  • Xbox 360 Kinect
  • Loopz Game
  • Nerf N-Strike Stampede Blaster
  • FurReal GoGo My Walkin' Pup.

Note that although some of this year's popular toys, such as Squinkies, Zoobles and Justin Bieber dolls, are safe toys for big kids, these toys pose a choking hazard to kids under three.

>>Read more about holiday toy safety.

Common toy hazards

According to the U.S. PIRG, choking continues to be the leading cause of death related to toys, responsible for more than 50% of all toy-related deaths during the last 19 years. However, strangulation hazards, laceration hazards, fire and burn hazards also result in toy recalls.

Heightened awareness of the violation of lead paint standard is also front and center in the media, especially with the number of imported products saturating the toy market.

When shopping for safe toys for babies, avoid anything with small parts, especially for kids under three. Babies engage in sensory learning, putting things into their mouth and increasing the risk of choking, asphyxiation, and intestinal hazards, especially with magnets.

It is also important to note when browsing the toy aisle that safe toys for children under three years old should not contain balls with a diameter smaller than 1 3/4 inches. In addition, toys with strings and cords can pose a strangulation hazard.

When picking up safest toys for preschoolers, caution should still be taken regarding small parts, including anything with magnetic pieces because they are still risky for kids under the age of six. Also around this age, kids tend to begin to use riding toys, such as scooters and skateboards, which present a high rate of injuries from falls. In addition, toys with drawstrings or loops, such as stick horses, continue to create a strangulation hazard, even for this age group.

When it comes to noise, big kids love a lot of it. However, due in part to the findings of the U.S. PIRG that almost 15 percent of children ages six to 17 show signs of hearing loss, an acoustic standard for toys was created by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

When it comes to guns, the hazards can be deadly. These toys should not look like the real thing, and BB and pellet guns should only be given to children 16 years and older. In addition, darts and arrows with hard tips should be avoided.

>>Keep reading for advice on how to choose safe toys as well as how to stay on top of toy recalls

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