Safe play: Choosing safe toys for your child

Sep 28, 2007 at 9:29 p.m. ET

The toy industry and the Federal government work hard to ensure that toys are among the safest products brought into the home. A toy may go through more than one hundred safety tests to imitate the kind of use and abuse it may get in the hands of a child. Toys are tested for sharp points and edges, small parts, flammability, toxicity and more.

In addition, toy labels help parents and caregivers choose the right toys for their children. A toy that may be safe and enjoyable for an older child may be unsuitable and potentially dangerous for a younger one.

Safe manufacturing and careful toy selection are not enough to protect our children.

Toy-related injuries generally occur when an infant or toddler chokes on a toy intended for an older child, when a child trips over a toy that was not put away after use, or when an unsupervised child hits another with a toy. Most play-related injuries are avoidable.

Parents and caregivers should be their own safety experts. Toys must be used, maintained and stored correctly to ensure that the safety built in at the factory continues at home...

There is no substitute for adult supervision.

As good as new
Another step that parents and caregivers can take to ensure safe play is to properly maintain toys. Even the most well-made toys can suffer minor damage in play. Check toys regularly for cracks, tears, sharp edges, small parts, loose buttons, dirt, etc. Remind children to let you know when toys need repair. Often, a spot of glue, a tightened bolt or a bit of tape will prevent further damage and a possible injury.

Never allow toys to remain outdoors overnight. Rain, snow and dew cause rust damage that increases the risk of injuries. A toy damaged beyond repair should be discarded in an inaccessible manner or replaced promptly.