What’s involved in toy safety?
First, toys are designed to be safe – and each toy is appropriately made for a specific age. While a child may be developmentally ready for “older” toys, the toys might not be safe enough for a young child.
Once a toy is designed, it’s manufactured with safety in mind. A whopping eighty percent of toys sold in the U.S. are made in China, and only ten percent are made in the United States. The country where a toy is manufactured doesn’t affect the safety, though – all toys sold in the United States must abide by the same basic safety standards.
Fortunately, toys are inspected at least twice: once by the toy manufacturer and once by a store’s corporate headquarters. Quality control managers, either directly employed by the company or a third-party inspector, check to see that the toys are safe enough for their targeted audiences.
If a toy passes inspection, then it’s sent on to store shelves. At that point, the burden of protection falls to consumers.
To best protect children, a parent – or gift-giver – should choose a toy wisely:
- Most importantly, pick an age-appropriate toy based on each toy’s recommended age range. While older children cannot be harmed by a younger child’s toy, younger children can be harmed – by choking or getting punctured or suffering other injuries – by an older child’s toy.
- Beware of cheap imitations of popular toys. Because they’re inexpensive, it usually means the toys don’t go through the same stringent safety checks that reputable toy manufacturers have – they just meet the most basic standards.
- Once a child is given any toy, supervise playtime – that’s the easiest way to prevent injuries. If a toy gets damaged, either fix it or dispose of it.
- Finally, keep an older child’s toys away from younger children. The advanced toys look tempting to play with, but they’re simply not safe enough for infants and toddlers. 1
As a parent of two children, I know that is much easier said than done. My toddler daughter is always trying to play with her older brother’s toys, but it’s my duty as a parent to make sure she’s kept away from potentially harmful things.
For me, hearing all the restrictions on children’s toys is anything but fun. When I’m shopping for my children, I love to peruse the coolest looking things. The flashiest, shiniest items are eye-catching for both children and adults.
However, as a parent, it’s my God-given responsibility to make sure my children are safe.
If a toy – no matter how fantastic it looks – has a great potential to harm my child, then I need to make sure it never enters our home. Of course toys look so appealing to children – they should. But just like Snow White was seduced by the shiny, poisonous apple, our children face grave dangers – including death – when they play with unsafe toys.
I Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” Children are unable to discern what is best for them because they’re children.
As parents, though, it’s incredibly important to choose safe toys and then have a wonderful time playing right along with your children.
For more information about safe toy resources, check Healthy Child, Healthy World.
What do you look for when choosing safe toys for your children?
1. “Toy Safety in the United States.” Toy Industry Association, Inc. July 2007.
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