Under 3 Years Old
Children under 3 tend to put everything in their mouths. Avoid buying toys intended for older children which may have small parts that pose a choking danger.
Never let children of any age play with un-inflated or broken balloons because of the choking danger.
Avoid marbles, balls, and games with balls, that have a diameter of 1.75 inches or less. These products also pose a choking hazard to young children.
Children at this age pull, prod and twist toys. Look for toys that are well-made with tightly secured eyes, noses and other parts.
Avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.
Ages 3 Through 5
Avoid toys that are constructed with thin, brittle plastic that might easily break into small pieces or leave jagged edges.
Look for household art materials, including crayons and paint sets, marked with the designation "ASTM D-4236." This means the product has been reviewed by a toxicologist and, if necessary, labeled with cautionary information.
Teach older children to keep their toys away from their younger brothers and sisters.
Ages 6 Through 12
For all children, adults should check toys periodically for breakage and potential hazards. Damaged or dangerous toys should be repaired or thrown away.
If buying a toy gun, be sure the barrel, or the entire gun, is brightly colored so that it's not mistaken for a real gun.
If you buy a bicycle for any age child, buy a helmet too, and make sure the child wears it.
Teach all children to put toys away when they're finished playing so they don't trip over them or fall on them.
Read the Label...
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission requires toy manufacturers to meet stringent safety standards and to label certain toys that could be a hazard for younger children. Look for labels that give age recommendations and use that information as a guide. Labels on toys that state "not recommended for children under three ... contains small parts," are labeled that way because they may pose a choking hazard to children under three. Toys should be developmentally appropriate to suit the skills, abilities and interests of the child.
Shopping for toys during the holidays can be exciting and fun, but it can also be frustrating. There can be thousands of toys to choose from in one store, and it's important to choose the right toy for the right age child. Toys that are meant for older children can be dangerous for younger children.
Last year, an estimated 140,700 children were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms after toy-related incidents and 13 children died.
Age Appropriate Toys:
The surest way to keep kids safe, happy and developing appropriately at play is to make sure theyre playing with age-appropriate toys. That may mean keeping older childrens toys out of the reach of younger kids, particularly when safety is an issue. Here are some recommendations for age-appropriate toys from the National SAFEKIDS Campaign.
stuffed animals (without button noses and eyes)
Ages 1 to 3
Ages 5 to 9
trains and other electric and battery-operated toys for kids ages 8 and over
Ages 9 to 14
table and board games
sports equipment (with protective gear included)
Learn more about picking winning toys in How to Select the Right Toys for Your Child