How to choose safe toys for your little one

Toys are like kids’ treasures. They are not just playthings; kids learn a lot from them and grow with them. However, if you’re not careful, toys can be dangerous too. Toys may pretence several hazards such as chemical, physical, mechanical, electrical, flammability, hygiene and radioactivity, which cannot be overlooked. If toys are not manufactured carefully and accurately, they risk to release toxic substances or they can break into smaller pieces that can be accidentally swallowed by the kids or they can easily burn or have little holes where a child’s finger could fit in. We all know babies put every single thing they get in their little hands into their mouth and that includes the lovely, bright and colorful plastic toys we buy.

This is why we looked at different ways in which you can determine the safety aspect of any toy and keep your kids safe.

The Hard Facts

Indian markets are today flooded with cheap Chinese toys which do not conform to any quality standards. On the flip side, Indian standards for toy safety are voluntary in nature and no license has been granted for this standard. Though Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has formulated Indian standard prescribing safety requirements for toys relating to certain elements, it has not granted any certification license. So, the authorities in the country cannot enforce it against manufacturers of toys.

Whether your kids are working on a puzzle, playing with building blocks, or even inventing their own games, here are a few things to think about to help them stay safe and have lots of fun.

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The toy box says it all

Most plastics are safe for even very small children.  However, some plastics contain a variety of additives that have been found to be toxic:

  • BISPHENOL-A — usually called BPA. More than 100 studies have linked BPA to problems including obesity, depression and breast cancer.

  • PVC — Avoid plastics that are marked with a “3” or “PVC” because polyvinyl chloride plastics often contain additives that can make plastics more harmful than they need to be for children.

  • 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— According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plastic toys may contain these chemicals that are generally added to soften the plastic.

But, how do you know whether these chemicals are present in the toy?

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Paying attention to the labels can be helpful as they contain valuable information about the material, recommended age, etc about the toy. Below table outlines what various labels on the toy box say about the safety. Now, you may not find any such labels on most of the India-made or China-made toys making it difficult for anyone to determine the safety coefficient of such toys.

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What it means

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This standard incorporates relevant safety measures required to prevent injuries from choking, sharp edges and other potential hazards. It limits on lead content in children’s products and all toys need to be phthalate-free (not exceeding 0.1%).

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All toys that carry this mark are phthalate-free and a strict limit of lead content has to be met. The 0-3 symbol needs to be added to CE mark if there are small parts or other characteristics that are unsuitable for children less than 3 years.

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This symbol bans the placing of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than agreed levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants.

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Products carrying the FSC label are independently certified to assure consumers that they come from forests that are managed to meet the social, economic and ecological needs of present and future generations.

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Unsuitable for children under three years because it might, for instance, contain small parts.

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Will not easily catch light from cigarettes or matches.

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This means toy has small parts, a choking hazard and not suitable for a child under three years.

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It means that the manufacturer of the packaging is geared towards full recovery of packaging material and promotion of easy-to-recycle components in packaging.

 

Once you confirm the safety of the material, few basic rules can really enhance your kid’s experience with the toys.

  1. Toys should not be heavy – Your child can play in n-numbers of ways with the toy, so it is important that the weight is not so much that your child is not able to move the toy around or carry it. Your child may drop the toy on themselves or the weight can cause your child to fall and injure.

  2. Make sure your child is physically ready for the toy – For example, parents of older kids may buy a bike one size too big so as not to have to buy a new bike the next year. This tactic can lead to serious injury if a child doesn’t have the physical skills to control the bigger bike.

  3. Avoid Batteries – Batteries make fascinating and fun toys possible, but at a huge cost to the environment. They pose a serious threat to your child who can easily choke on them. Rather than choosing battery-powered toys, consider options that children power with their hands and imagination.

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Go natural –  Look for safe toys made of natural materials like solid woods (with no finish or a non-toxic finish) and avoid any toys made of pressed woods (plywood or particle board). These woods often have toxic chemicals in the glue. Other natural materials that make great toys include felt, wool, silk, hemp, organic cotton, and bamboo. You can find a variety of wooden eco-friendly toys which are safe and fun to play.

Picking a toy that is safe for your child is just as important as considering its potential “wow” factor. This is the best way to make sure that your child enjoys the toy and is able to safely play with it.

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