The holiday season is a great time to assess the toy situation in your house. Use it as a “fresh start” for finally tackling that overflowing toy box. In addition to removing excess toys, it’s also critical to pay special attention to those that pose a safety concern.

Safety First
Toys on store shelves are subject to more than 100 safety tests and standards that are required by federal law. Those safety standards address every aspect of a toy, from its physical parts to its chemical makeup and beyond.
It doesn’t matter if toys are manufactured in Asia, Europe, the US or elsewhere—to be sold in this country, every toy must meet our nation’s strict safety requirements. Before being sold in US stores, toys must be certified for safety by an independent, federally approved toy testing lab.

Not Just a Number
The age grading on a toy isn’t about how smart a child is—it’s important safety guidance that’s based on the developmental skills and abilities of children at a given age and the specific features of a toy. If a toy is too advanced, your child will become frustrated, and if it’s too simple, they’ll get bored.

Handle with Care
It’s tempting for kids to skip the instructions with new toys and dive right in, but reading through instructions ensures that all parts are secured, and toys are used in the proper way. Playing the wrong way or playing with a toy for something other than its intended use can pose a danger.

Save directions, warranties and assembly hardware. Also, supervision of play is critical, especially for younger children. Get on the floor and play with the kids. Demonstrating the correct way to use a toy or game is the best way to make sure your child understands how to properly and safely enjoy it.

Hazards Large and Small
Be sure to take note of what else is in a child’s play environment that may pose a risk. Choking hazards posed by batteries and magnets and other small items are a leading cause of injury to kids.

Parents should remember to dispose of all batteries where children can’t access them. They should also make sure to take note of other household items like remotes that do not have a locking mechanism to protect access to the batteries.

On the other side of the size scale, toy chests or toy boxes with lids can fall and trap or injure kids seriously. Look for chests with lids with hinges that keep the lid open and are much safer. With new toys being added to toy shelves or toy closets, it’s even more important to make sure bookcases, bureaus or shelves are secured with safety latches and mounted properly to prevent injury from tipped bookshelves or fallen shelves.
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