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Toy Safety--Identifying High-Risk Situations

Scooter injury is the most common cause of toy-related injury and death.

Toys to avoid

The following toys are not appropriate for infants:

  • Toys that hang in cribs and playpens with strings longer than seven inches

  • Toys that are small enough to become lodged in an infant's throat

  • Plastic wrapping from toys, which itself is a suffocation hazard

The following toys are not appropriate for children ages 3 and under:

  • Small toys or toys with removal parts that can become lodged in the child's throat (for example, a stuffed animal with loose eyes, game pieces, batteries, or marbles)

  • Toys with breakable or loose parts (for example, toys with small wheels, or action figures with removable pieces)

  • Latex balloons

  • Plastic wrapping from toys, which itself is a suffocation hazard

Infants and toddlers should never be given toys with any of the following:

  • Parts that could pull off

  • Exposed wires

  • Parts that get hot

  • Painted lead paint

  • Toxic materials

  • Breakable parts

  • Sharp points or edges

  • Glass or brittle parts

  • Springs, gears, or hinged parts that could pinch or trap fingers

The following toys are not appropriate for children ages 8 and under:

  • Toys with sharp points or edges

  • Electrical toys with heating elements (for example, a toy oven set)

  • Toys that contain toxic substances (for example, certain art sets)

  • Toys that can trap fingers

  • Shooting and/or loud toys (such as bb guns, cap guns, or air guns)

  • Toys that may contain lead paint (usually older toys purchased at garage sales or flea markets)

  • Toys that do not adhere to U.S. safety standards

A special safety note about walkers

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the use of walkers for the following reasons:

  • Babies in walkers can fall over objects or fall down stairs, and may roll into pools, heaters, and hot stoves.

  • The use of walkers is associated with poisoning, especially in infants under 9 months of age. The walker puts a young infant at a level where they can reach household chemicals before they are mobile, and before many parents have baby-proofed their homes.

  • These devices do not facilitate walking or faster or advanced mobility and may actually hinder certain motor development skills such as pulling-up, crawling, and creeping.

  • Walkers give babies extra momentum to break through barriers such as safety gates, resulting in thousands of head injuries each year.

Note: Many manufacturers now make stationery walkers that allow babies to sit in place. These are a safer alternative to the moveable walkers. However, many physicians still believe that all walkers are unacceptable. Consult your child's doctor for more information.