What was your favourite toy as a child?
Each generation has its own iconic set of toys: The eighties had Transformers and Cabbage Patch dolls, the nineties had Beanie Babies. Your favourite toy probably says a lot about your childhood. Personally, my favourite was a scruffy old teddy bear (‘Teddy’ of course being named after none other than Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt himself!). Our childhood toys are looked back on with a sense of nostalgia, and we often want our own children to experience the same joy we got from our favourite toy. Some of us even pass down toys from generation to generation!
Before you do decide to pass on that battered old teddy, or well-worn wooden building block set, it’s worth asking yourself: How safe are your child’s toys?
On average, there are over 42,000 accidents involving toys each year. Unsurprisingly, the majority of these accidents involve toys that are ridden, such as rocking-horses and cars. However, things like teddy bears, action men, and other such soft toys are involved in a surprisingly large amount of accidents: Small parts can fall off and cause choking, batteries can malfunction and cause chemical burns, moving parts can trap fingers, and so on. I’m sure any parent has at least one story involving their child, their child’s toy, and an accident!
Whilst children will inevitably find a way to injure themselves, there are a number of things you can do to ensure that your child’s toy is safe in order to minimise the risk:
Check the labels and warnings:
The law says that all toys must have a suggested age range:
You wouldn’t want to give a baby a toy with lots of small, breakable parts as this may lead to choking hazards.
Look for the CE (European Community) symbol:
This shows that the manufacturer has declared that the toy meets the EU directive on the safety of toys.
The lion mark indicates that a toy meets the safety and quality standards of the British Toy & Hobby Association, something that the CE mark doesn’t cover. This adds an extra element of reassurance to the quality of your child’s toy.
There is a lot to be said for using common sense when it comes to toy safety advice:
Check toys often for damage: Look for wear and tear, cracks, loose components, and so on. It’s better to catch these things before they do damage. Also, don’t donate damaged toys to charity or second hand shops! If you deem a toy too dangerous for your child, it is too dangerous for all children. It’s better to throw it away. Speaking of which, recycle or throw away the packaging as soon as you can: Suffocation is a real risk, and we all know that often children prefer to play with the box the toy came in rather than the toy itself!
Age appropriate toys: Avoid giving any child under 3 years old a toy that doesn’t come with the label above. Supervise young children when they are playing with toys, especially if they are sharing toys with an older child. Try to avoid toys with small parts, long strings, or removable components when choosing a toy for an infant. What’s safe for a 5 year old may not be safe for a 2 year old.
Be careful with batteries: Electronic toys can be great entertainment for children, but it is important to be careful whenever batteries are involved. Ensure that the batteries are fitted correctly and secured in place to avoid a choking hazard. Also, ensure that you’re not mixing old and new batteries as this could cause electric shocks, overheating, and fire.
Finally, the most important rule of all:
Encourage your children to put away their toys when they’re finished playing with them!
Whilst there are plenty of horror stories of children getting marbles stuck up their noses, choking on the eyes of teddy bears, or suffocating in the plastic packaging, the majority of accidents involve tripping over or standing on discarded toys: I’m sure anyone who has stood on a piece of Lego won’t forget that in a hurry!
Putting away toys encourages responsibility, and also saves you from a bit of extra work! If you would like to learn about first aid in case that emergency happens visit our course page and choose one that suits your needs.