Toys - play safely

Danger never takes a vacation [even during the holidays] ~ Author Unknown

Apart from ice-cream and maybe a couple more things that I do not yet know about, I wonder what other word elicits so much joy, excitement, or anticipation from kids as TOYS!!! 

What better time to talk about toys than in this season of giving, giving, and even more giving. Oh, and receiving and receiving; after all, someone has got to receive all that giving away.

The most toy-related deaths in 2013 for kids in the US were due to asphyxiation, while there were 256,700 toy-related injuries. I can't get any statistic for Nigeria, but I can imagine the figures will be
significant. This means there are potential injuries that could arise while playing with toys. I'm not trying to scare you into preventing your kids from playing with toys, but like everything else, we need to be safe.

So a few general Toy Safety Tips:

  • Is it age-appropriate?: I can remember getting a year 6 math textbook as a gift while I was in year 3 in elementary (read: primary) school. Clearly, I couldn't use it till I got to that class (fortunately, the required textbooks hadn't changed at that time). It is advisable to get toys that are suitable for children's age. Age-level for toys are determined by safety, so it doesn't matter how smart we may think our child is. If they are not old enough for it, then don't let them play with it. In countries where there are enforceable laws, toys are clearly labelled to show the suitable or appropriate ages. A lot of the toys we use in Nigeria are imported, and some of them may pass safety checks even if they do not meet minimum safety standards. Also, locally made toys may slip through the regulatory authorities. Therefore when we buy them for our kids to use, we expose them to danger.  It now falls on parents to carefully check for this.

  • Look out for small or loose parts in toys for toddlers even if it is labelled suitable for that age. The rule of thumb here is that if the child is younger than 3, make sure the toy is bigger than the child's mouth to prevent a choking hazard when they try to put it in their mouths or swallow it. 
  • Try to avoid heavy toys. For instance, toys that can cause injuries when they fall on the child are too heavy; go for a lighter option instead.
  • Balloons (uninflated or burst pieces) are a no for kids younger than 8 (I have seen a lot of little kids playing with balloons), as they can present choking hazard if ingested. They should only be for decoration.
  • For little babies, try to avoid toys with hinges or holes that could trap or catch little fingers. Also, stuffed toys should be washable and washed regularly.
  • Ensure that toys that are operated with batteries have battery cases screwed on, so it cannot be opened. 
  • Chords or wires on toys should be as short as possible to prevent both tripping hazard, and the possibility of a child tying them around the neck.

Then a few tips for the season:
In this season of giving and receiving, some of us are going to be giving out a lot of gifts and toys to the less-privileged, like in orphanages, on the streets etc, and that automatically means someone is going to be receiving them. Some of these toys may not be new, could have been stored up for ages and so the original packaging will probably be damaged, or maybe they have been used once or multiple times. Whatever the case, these toys do not come as they were made or bought.

We know toys are supposed to be age-appropriate, so when original labels or tags of toys have been removed and the toys have to be given out, please ensure they are labelled appropriately before giving them out, or at least there is a warning sign that says not suitable for kids below or above a certain age. That way, they even add more value to the recipients or users.

An advice for those receiving, try not to accept old toys for your very young babies, as you may not be sure about their condition and it could cause them harm. 

In concluding, when play time is over, always put toys away in a bin or basket until the next time they will be used. This will signal to the kids that playtime is over and help them understand to always put away toys after play.
Short story to support this: I was on holiday from my finance job sometime ago and was helping my mentor in her creche one morning. There is usually a brief meeting for the staff in the morning while the kids are being dropped off by their parents (kids are usually kept busy with their toys under supervision before the start of the day's activities). Just as the meeting with rounding off, one of the caregivers/staff started to sing a song and the kids got up and began putting their toys away in a bin. The little ones that were barely able to walk were crawling and pushing their toys happily. I was initially surprised 'cause I didn't understand what was happening. When I realised, I became quite impressed that the kids knew just when playtime was over (the cue song) and also knew to put their toys away neatly.

The toy safety tips are non-exhaustive, so if you have more to share, please do so in the comment section.

Give, receive, play safely, and enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

The Baby Analyst.

Not a doctor, just a financial analyst who loves kids


Anonymous said…
This is definitely good info.
FaBsLeDgE said…
Great tips and that short story makes brain.

Methods of control and passing a message cannot truly be exhausted. could have at least written the song too :P
LOL. You know I actually wanted to learn the song. I'm sure now I would.
Thanks for your comment

Popular posts from this blog

Hospital visits and safety

Thinking about daycare? Tips on what to look out for - Part I

Do they really have to hug or kiss?