Buying Guidelines for Safe and Fun Toys

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Toys are a source of fun and learning. The right toys can help children develop imagination and coordination. The wrong ones can do more harm than good. Toy-related injuries send tens of thousands of children to the emergency room each year. Most injuries occur when children play with toys meant for older children. 

Your challenge as a parent is to find toys your children will enjoy and that you know are safe. These suggestions can help you make the right choice when selecting a toy.

Remember to follow the toy manufacturer recommendations about supervising your child while playing.

  • Select toys to suit a child's age, abilities, skills and interest level. Read instructions carefully and follow suggested age levels as recommended by the manufacturer. Age recommendations are provided for developmental and safety reasons.
  • Watch for small parts: Do not give toys with small parts to infants and toddlers. They tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking.
  • Inspect toys for solid construction: They should be made of durable materials, have no sharp edges or points and be able to withstand impact.
  • Keep batteries away from children; Make sure batteries are locked securely in the toy. They can easily be swallowed and cause severe burns resulting in serious complications.  If a button batteryis swallowed, it must be removed within 2 hours. Go to a pediatric emergency department immediately.
  • Watch the action: Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off. Slingshots and high-powered water guns can cause injuries.  BB guns should not be considered toys. 
  • Check stuffed animals:  The eyes, noses and other small parts of stuffed animals should be securely fastened. 
  • Check noise level: Avoid toys that make loud or shrill noise to avoid serious ear injury.  
  • Avoid toys with electric heating elements. They may cause burns to a child.          
  • Toss or repair damaged toys. 
  • Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger ones.
  • Discard wrappings immediately. Sharp staples, wires and plastic bags can cause injuries and pose safety hazards. Put away scissors immediately after use.
  • Make a list of safety rules. Share them with your children and their friends. Do not let children play with toys in dangerous ways. 
  • Check product recalls and safety information on Health Canada's Consumer Product Safety website.
Each year Protégez-vous publishes a review of different games and toys tested by children and their parents. For more of details, visit www.protegez-vous.ca
 

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Reviewed by Trauma specialists at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Last updated: july 2013, october 2015

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