Playing it Safe with Children’s Toys  

children playing blocks

Living room floors and backyards are strewn with toys and games throughout the summer months as kids enjoy the freedom and warm weather. Checking the safety of toys, especially in homes with children of different ages, is an important step to prevent injury. Separating toys intended for older children protects little ones from the dangers of sharp edges and the choking hazards of small parts.  

Amy Paulson, RN

“A good rule of thumb is if the toy is small enough to fit in a toilet paper role it is a potential choking hazard,”

points out Amy Paulson, RN, Bright Start program coordinator for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC). 

Getting the child to an emergency room immediately is vital if a parent even suspects a child has swallowed a high-powered magnet or small battery. The National Capital Poison Center hotline (1-800-498-8666) is available to provide support. Parents can prevent damage from a battery by following their recommendation of giving two teaspoons of honey every ten minutes to children over 12 months of age on the way to the emergency room.  

Anyone caring for children should follow these basic toy safety tips:  

  • Make sure toys are sturdy
  • Avoid toys with sharp or rigid points and dangerous edges
  • Verify string are 12 inches or shorters
  • Avoid marbles and small pieces until your child is over three
  • Demonstrate how to use the toy
  • After purchasing toy remove the tags to prevent a choking hazard
  • Choose age- appropriate toys and separate toys for older and younger children
  • Avoid toxic chemical. Lead- based paint used on older toys can result in lead poisoning
  • Check the website for all toys, including toys purchased from garage sales
  • Register new toys to be notified of recllas
  •  Report an unsafe toy 

“It is so important to demonstrate one-on-one with your child how to use each toy properly. Kids love to watch you and will follow your lead. It will enhance your bonding with your child as well,” emphasized Paulson.  

Every parent wants to keep their child safe and happy. The Bright Start program connects eligible expectant and first-time mothers with a personal nurse to provide education and support from pregnancy through the child’s second birthday.  Anyone can use the Bright Start Referral Form to learn more about the program.