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By Casey De Farria
Casey De Farria
16 Nov, 2021

What to watch for when buying (and receiving) Christmas toys

Many of us have been there – it’s Christmas day and your very excited little ones rip into presents of toys too old for them, with button batteries, magnets, or no safety labels and warnings.

It can make you cringe a little when this happens, or perhaps before having kids yourself you know you’ve been guilty of buying a toy recommended for children 8 years plus, for a 3-year-old. Some toys can be dangerous or poorly constructed and can result in serious injuries including choking and strangulation.

Providing kids with good quality toys will ensure that they get the most benefit from their toys and that the toys will last for years to come. So how do you buy safely this Christmas? What tips can you give well-meaning relatives so that your kids can play with toys that are hazard-free?

  • Check that the toy meets the Australian safety standard. Don’t assume all toys that are sold automatically meet these standards!
  • Avoid toys that use button batteries – if your child does receive a toy that operates with a button battery, just check that the battery is properly secure, and if in doubt, dispose of the toy responsibly.
  • Choose age-appropriate toys. Follow the age recommendations on toy packaging – these recommendations often relate to the toys’ safety and not to the intelligence or capability of the child using the toy.
  • Check for choking hazards, especially small parts that might break off and can easily be put into the mouth, nose or ears.
  • Don’t buy foam toys (such as bath blocks) for children under three years old as they may pose a choking hazard if children bite pieces off them – if you have a child who bites everything, you have likely experienced this yourself!
  • Look for toys that are non-toxic and non-flammable. 

You can also help your child to learn to play confidently and safely with their new toys:

  • Supervise young children while they are learning how to use their new toys, until they are confident and capable.
  • When buying toys that shoot off projectiles, teach kids how to use them safely, making sure they avoid people’s eyes, as well as body parts that can hurt from a close distance.
  • Avoid mixing and storing toys meant for children of different age ranges together – it can be dangerous if younger children play with toys meant for much older children. We know this can be tricky when you have kids of different ages. Save toys that are dangerous for little ones, for play during baby’s nap time, and teach older kids why they are unsafe for littlies.
  • Regularly clear out your child’s toy box – check for toys with loose fur, ripped seams, broken parts with sharp edges, or loose pieces. If you find broken toys or toys that are damaged, don’t pass them on to others. Instead, dispose of them appropriately, keeping in mind that plastic can be recycled and e-waste may be banned from landfill.
  • Tidy up and teach children to put things away when they finish with them – having a messy floor can be a trip hazard, and toys not accounted for can be a choking hazard for exploring babies!
  • Remove string toys such as mobiles from above the cot when your baby reaches about five months old to avoid strangulation.
  • Keep soft toys away from sleeping babies under 12 months, as they may cover your baby’s nose and mouth and interfere with breathing. 
  • Always change the batteries in a toy all at once – new batteries can cause old batteries to get dangerously hot if all batteries are not changed together.

Reference

The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne – Safety: Toys Fact Sheet.

Further reading

  1. Kids Health Info fact sheet: Choking, suffocation and strangulation prevention
  2. Kids Health Info fact sheet: Swallowed (ingested) foreign bodies
  3. Kids Health Info fact sheet: Safety: Backyards and playgrounds
  4. Product Safety Australia: Toy safety
  5. Product Safety Australia: Recalls

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