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How to avoid picking unsafe toys for your child

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is responsible for both regulating what is placed on the market and then further monitoring it for safety as long as it's being sold here in the U.S. They are the ones responsible for setting guidelines that must be followed when labeling toys with the age groups they're most appropriate for.

One guideline set by the CPSC calls for items that appear to pose some kind of choking hazard to be labeled as inappropriate for children under the age of 3. They also require that such an item be labeled as containing small parts, thus posing a choking hazard as well.

In order for a toy to be considered to be complaint with CPSC guidelines, any paint that was used in manufacturing it must be proven to be lead-free. Additionally, any art supplies have to be labeled as being nontoxic. Paints and crayons must also be labeled with an American Society for Testing and Materials D-4236 marking, proving that they've also been evaluated for safety.

Although not as closely regulated, toy safety experts warn parents against giving their children toys that make noise such as squeaky ones, music instruments, rattles and electronic devices. They warn that the loud sounds they make can cause permanent hearing damage.

Safety experts also encourage parents to choose toys that are age-appropriate for their children. For example, with preschoolers and toddlers, it's important to avoid any toys that contain balls, buttons, beaded eyes, coins or marbles that they may inadvertently choke on.

It's also important to check and see if the toy has any sharp edges or loose parts before allowing your infant or toddler to play with them, especially since they enjoy putting things in their mouth at this age.

As for riding toys, like a rocking horse, a self-propelled vehicle or even bicycles, it's important for children to be monitored and dressed in appropriate safety gear to protect them if they fall off or out of it.

Being cautious about what you buy your child to play with can greatly impact his or her safety. If your child has been hurt by an improperly labeled, defective or dangerous toy, then a New Haven, Connecticut, products liability attorney can advise you of your right to sue its manufacturer.

Source: Kids Health, "Choosing safe toys," accessed Jan. 17, 2018

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