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7 Safety Tips for Baby Toys

Pregnancy & Postpartum

baby toy safety

The same way you get excited about a new pair of shoes, your baby gets excited about a new toy. And, just as some super-high, spiked heels are dangerous for you to walk in, some toys may not be safe for your baby.

Whether it's a birthday, holiday or just-because gift, keep your baby safe by following these seven tips for toys.

Pick age-appropriate toys. Always pay close attention to the age recommendations on toys and choose according to a child's age, interest and skill level. Until your child turns 3, toy parts should be bigger than his mouth to prevent the possibility of choking. To determine whether a toy poses a choking risk, try fitting it through a toilet paper roll. If a toy or part of a toy can fit inside the cylinder, it's not safe. Also consider the weight. If it could harm your baby if it fell on him, pass.

Watch out for chemicals. Even when you find a toy that seems safe, you'll want to be sure it's not made with chemicals that can harm your child. Phthalates, or "plasticizers," are used to make plastic more flexible and durable, and these chemicals are found in many toys. Cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic are other chemicals you can find in everything from dolls and action figures to children's jewelry and stuffed animals. Just as you would look at a food label, check out what's in your baby's toys.

Discard packaging. The box the toy came in often becomes more exciting than the toy itself, so make sure all tape, staples, twist ties and any small pieces of cardboard are immediately discarded. Your baby doesn't know the difference between toys and regular objects, so it's up to you to play defense.

Inspect all toys right out of the box. All toys need to be checked for buttons, batteries, yarn, ribbons, eyes, beads and plastic parts that could easily be chewed or snapped off. Check for sharp points or edges made from such materials as metal or glass. This includes stuffed animals with wires that could stab, cut or shock if exposed. Used toys passed down from older relatives or siblings or bought at yard sales can be worn or frayed, which can sometimes be dangerous.

Make sure batteries are secure. Battery-operated toys should have battery cases that secure with screws so that kids cannot pry them open. Batteries and battery fluid pose serious risks, including choking, internal bleeding and chemical burns.

Skip the balloons. Uninflated latex balloons—or a piece of a balloon—when ingested, can form a tight seal in a child's airway and make it impossible for him to breathe.

Teach older siblings to clean up. If you have older children, make sure they properly put away their toys. Big kid toys can pose serious threats for little ones.

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