Tis the Season for Toy Safety?
My grandkids (ages three to 12) are coming to stay with me over the holidays. I still have some of their dad's toys from when he was a boy, but I wonder if there are certain ones I should keep in the attic.
This is the season to be thinking about toy safety. In fact, it is Toy Safety Month. I understand your concern, but I think that by keeping some simple, common-sense rules in mind, you won't have to worry much during your grandchildren's visit.
Look over the toys you have at home to see if they are age-appropriate for your grandchildren. In general, this means making sure they aren't too advanced for the youngest child, but sufficiently sophisticated for the older ones. Since the youngest of your grandchildren is three, you can worry less about toys that come apart. Homes with infants or toddlers should make sure all toys (and their removable parts) are large enough so they can't be put into a child's mouth and become a choking hazard. (An easy test: A child can choke on any object that fits inside the tube from a roll of toilet paper.)
Parents or grandparents should also be aware that over the last two years toy manufacturers have pulled recalled teethers, rattles, and other products which contain a cancer-causing chemical called diisononyl phthalate (DINP). Phthalates are used to soften plastics, but high doses have been linked to cancer in mice and rats. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has said the amounts that might have been ingested by small children are not high enough to pose a risk, but it does make sense to toss any soft plastic rattles and teethers older than a year -- that's when most toy manufacturers agreed to phase out use of the additive.
The following guidelines for toy safety are from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Consumer Products Safety Commission, and they should see you through the holidays:
Check the surface and edges of wooden toys. Sandpaper sharp corners and splinters.
Don't give hobby kits, such as chemistry sets, to children younger than 12.
Make sure the tips of arrows or darts are blunt, made of soft rubber or flexible plastic, and are securely fastened to the shaft. Don't permit children to play with adult darts or other hobby or sporting equipment that have sharp points.
Examine all outdoor toys regularly for rust or weak parts that could become hazardous.
Discard all plastic wrappings on toys before they become deadly playthings.
New toys intended for children under age eight should be free of sharp glass and metal edges.
Toys with long strings or cords may be dangerous around infants and very young children. Never hang toys with long strings, cords, loops, or ribbons in cribs or playpens where children can become entangled.
Keep toys designed for older children out of the hands of little ones.
It is important to be vigilant about toy safety, but do try to relax and enjoy the time you have with your grandkids. Have a happy holiday.