Whether it’s your toddler talking to her toys or bub banging and bashing her blocks about, watching your littlie play is one of the simple joys of being a parent. Playtime is also a great time for learning and enhancing development, so it pays to keep the experience a happy and safe one.
According to Christine Erskine, executive officer for Kidsafe NSW, choking is the number one injury caused by kids’ toys in Australia, and small items also have a habit of being pushed into interesting places, including up the nose. Cuts, squished fingers and toes, and strangulation can also result from unsafe playthings, Christine says. But the toy box shouldn’t be a scary place! Help keep it safe by asking these questions about your kids toys…
Can this toy be dangerous?
When considering buying your littlie a toy, as well as paying attention to the age recommendation and warnings on the packaging, “look for small pieces and for parts that can come loose quickly and be swallowed,” Christine says. Here, things including beads, batteries, magnets and wheels can pose a problem. A good rule of thumb is if it fits inside an old film canister or is smaller than a 20-cent piece, it’s best kept out of reach of children under the age of three. Watch out for other things that could be inhaled or swallowed, too, such as toy stuffing, fur and hair, and keep an eye out for sharp edges, parts that could pinch or crush little body parts, and ribbons, cords, chains and wire loops.
Make sure you’re around the first time you introduce a toy, too. That way you can get an idea of what your child will do with it and what takes her interest. If she starts to chew on a piece that may come loose, remove the toy and reintroduce it later.
But inspections don’t only go for new toys, Christine says. Toys can start off being safe, but after some rough and tumblecan develop sharp edges, loose stitching and other wobbly bits which can become dangerous. So it’s a great idea to do regular toy checks and mend or remove any toys that may have become unsafe.
Is the toy up to standard?
We’re lucky in Australia to have very strict safety standards that aim to reduce the risk of harm when it comes to toys. It’s important to check that your child’s toys meet these standards – so look for words
on the packaging that indicate they meet Australian Standards.
Be aware that toys that have come direct from other countries, such as those purchased online, haven’t necessarily undergone the same level of testing they would have if they were sold in Australia.
If safety issues about a toy are raised, Christine explains they’ll be recalled and checked. To keep on top of current toy recalls or if you have any safety concerns about a toy, you can visit ww.recalls.gov.au.
How are your child’s toys stored?
As well as considering what your little one plays with, spare a thought for where her toys are stored. Toy boxes with fixed lids can cause injury to tiny fingers if the lids are slammed shut, and can lead to your child finding herself stuck inside if she climbs on in, Christine says. Toy boxes with completely removable lids are a good choice, otherwise look for chests with lid support that can’t be locked shut. Ventilation holes are another great feature to look for when buying.
Also, make sure your littlie’s favourite toys are stored on a low shelf that she has easy access to – this will eliminate the desire to climb high for a prized object! Small toy boxes or baskets shouldn’t be too heavy, so your child can pull them out herself without causing injury, and any toy shelves should be fixed to the wall so they can’t be pulled on top of a climbing or cruising little one.