“Doctors extricate LED bulb from toddler” — The Times of India (12 Jan 2017)
“Fidget spinners land on list of most dangerous toys for kids” — The New York Post (21 Jun 2017)
“Toddler tumbles after riding toy car down mall ramp, left bloodied” — The Times of India (24 Aug 2014)
Many parents would not think twice before buying toys for their toddlers. In fact, no parent would imagine that a toy they have bought to spread a smile on the lips of their little one can grievously harm the child. Yet, the above headlines published in various newspapers and the following statistics published in the USA tell a different story.
According to an analysis prepared by the CPSC (US Consumer Product Safety Commission) staff titled, ‘Toy-related Deaths and Injuries, Calendar Year 2016’:
- In 2016, there were an estimated 240,000 toy-related injuries treated in the US hospital emergency departments.
- Of the 240,000 estimated toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries, an estimated 174,100 (73 per cent) happened to children younger than 15 years of age; an estimated 166,300 (69 per cent) occurred to children 12 years of age or younger; an estimated 85,200 (35 per cent) happened to children younger than 5 years of age.
The first and most important problem that we face with toddlers obviously is things going into the mouth and nose. So, both the size of the toy and the material, such as the paint or the cloth, are the two important things that parents need to look at. Also, it is important not only to buy safe toys but also to ensure that they are kept clean. These are some of the things parents tend to ignore. —*Vinita Siddhartha
While all toys look appealing to children and innocuous to parents, there may be an element of danger hidden within some of them, ignoring which can endanger your child’s safety. Read on to understand how to ensure your child's safety while choosing toys.
- Buy age-appropriate toys. Always check the intended age group printed on the package.
- Remove plastic wraps from the toys before giving the toys to your child. Plastic covers are dangerous, as the child can pull them over the head and suffocate.
- Strictly avoid toys with sharp edges.
- Buy only toys made of non-toxic materials.
- Rattles are the most popular toys for toddlers. According to the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), rattles must be at least 4 cm across and there should be no detachable parts.
- Getting that beautiful squeaky duck toy? Ensure that the squeaker cannot be detached. It is usually small enough for your toddler to swallow.
- Check toys thoroughly for small parts which can easily fit into your toddler’s mouth.
- Toys with magnets, particularly those with detachable ones, are a strict NO. If more than one magnet is swallowed, they can get attached inside the body and cause intestinal blockages, perforations and even death.
- Avoid fur toys for toddlers.
- Balloons are fun! However, they are not suitable for toddlers as they may swallow an uninflated balloon. If the event you are hosting has balloon decorations, be extremely careful to remove any broken pieces on the floor. Children may swallow the bits.
- Do not give your toddler any toy that needs to be plugged into an electrical source.
- Mobile phones are not toys. Convey that message firmly to your toddler.
- In battery-powered toys, ensure that the lid covering the battery is secured with a screw. Do not go for toys with sliding covers over the batteries. Your toddler can easily remove the cover. And, strictly avoid toys with button-type batteries.
- Do not opt for toys with mechanical parts such as springs, gears, wheels or hinges for your toddler. They could trap her tiny fingers, hair and may even latch on to her lips when she brings the toys close to her mouth.
- Avoid noisy toys. According to the AAP guidelines, noise levels at or about 100 decibels (the sound of a typical cap gun at close range) can be harmful for your toddler’s ears.
- Projectile toys are not suitable either. They can cause eye injuries. Also, if an older child plays with it, instruct her not to fire anything at her toddler brother or sister with the projectile toy.
Every category of toys have their own inherent advantages and disadvantages. There is nothing that is completely good or bad. We are moving into a global world and children need to be exposed to everything. Including traditional toys should not lead to the exclusion of everything else.—Vinita Siddhartha
Not to be left behind international norms on toy safety, the Bureau of Indian Standards also came up with guidelines in 2011 regarding the use of phthalates in toys and childcare products. In 2017, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade amended the import policy for toys under Indian Trade Classification.
Changes being affected in the manufacturing and importing process of toys in India is certainly a positive step towards ensuring child safety. However, it is in no way a substitute for decreased parental awareness or vigilance with regard to toys and child safety.
To know more about How To Keep A 3-Year Old Busy At Home go through the pages of this ClipBook.
*Vinita Siddhartha is the founder of Kreeda, a store for traditional games in Chennai