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Each year, thousands of children are injured by the very things that are supposed to bring them enjoyment - their toys. In recent years, there has also been growing concern about the safety of children's' toys. Such concern increases whenever there is an announcement of a toy recall. It may not be possible for parents to test toys for the presence of dangerous chemicals or parts. But there are many things you can do to reduce your child's risk of playing with dangerous toys. So it's essential that parents and grandparents (and anyone else purchasing a toy for a child) keep safety in mind.
Start by making sure all toys are age-appropriate. Look for labels on the toy package that give age recommendations and use that information as a guide. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends you take particular care with toys for children under the age of three. The parts should be bigger the 1-1/4 inches in diameter and more then 2-1/4 inches long. Any smaller is a severe choking hazard. Here are some other suggestions:
Sturdy construction is especially important because children tend to play hard with their toys. Younger children are especially curious and like taking things apart, so inspect all toys on a regular basis before letting children play with them. If a toy is broken, repair it immediately or get rid of it.
If giving a gift-wrapped toy to a child, watch out for small decorations, plastic wrappings, balloons (especially once they become deflated) or ribbons that could pose a choking hazard to infants or very young children. Discard packaging or plastic wrapping before handing a toy to an infant or young child. Never buy a bicycle, skates, or other sporting equipment for someone without giving them a helmet and other sport-specific protective equipment, such as knee or wrist guards. Make sure children receiving such gifts understand the importance of using safety equipment at all times. Ultimately, by giving children the gift of health and safety, you'll be giving them the best gift of all.
One issue that concerns many parents is the potential presence of lead in toys. Unfortunately, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) says there is really no reliable way for a consumer to test a toy for the presence of lead. CPSC says the sensitivity of testing kits available to consumers varies, with many false positives as well as false negatives. CPSC suggests paying attention to news reports and monitoring government websites for updated information on product recalls. If you have purchased any toys that have been recalled, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the products should be removed and returned according to the recall directions. AAP also indicates that the largest source of lead in children is not toys, but paint, and urges precautions in this area. (Read about "Lead Paint Warning")
All Concept Communications material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
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