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The Safest Toys for Your Baby

December 21st, 2010 | By: Elizabeth Pantley
Worried about the latest toy recalls? Here's how to keep playtime safe.
The Safest Toys for Your Baby

There have been a number of toy recalls lately–everything from toddler tricycles to inflatable balls. Here’s what you need to know about finding the safest toys for your baby:

Toy safety checklist

Always consider the safety aspects of anything your baby is going to play with by following these simple steps:

1. Abide by the age rating on the package. No matter how smart your child is or how wonderful the toy, don't second-guess the manufacturer, since age rankings are often given due to safety issues. If you choose to purchase a toy with an older age recommendation, make certain the toy is used only when you’re playing with your baby, and that it is stored where your baby can’t get to it without your supervision.

2. Discard any plastic wrapping, plastic bags, packaging, or tags before giving a toy to a baby. And make sure toys are properly assembled, with no loose parts.

3. Watch for choking hazards. Anything small enough to fit in your baby’s mouth has the potential for danger. Watch for pieces that may become loose from a larger object, too. And make sure that no small parts can be pulled or chewed off the toy.

4. Check the paint or finish on the toy to make sure it is non-toxic, since babies put everything in their mouths. And check older toys for sharp points, rough edges, rust, and broken parts.

5. Remove rattles, squeeze toys, teethers, stuffed animals and other small toys from the crib or bed when your baby goes to sleep for naps or bedtime. The exception here is a specialty made-for-baby toy that has been carefully created to be a safe sleeping lovey.

6. Avoid pull toys with long cords that could wind around your baby’s neck. Pull toys for babies should have either very short strings or rigid handles.

7. Beware of excessively loud toys. Babies tend to hold things close to their faces, and you want to protect your baby’s sensitive ears.

8. Never give a baby a balloon, Styrofoam, or plastic wrap as a toy; these present a serious choking hazard, since they cannot be expelled using the Heimlich maneuver.

9. Buy mobiles or crib toys from reputable manufacturers, and make sure that they attach to the crib without dangling strings. Remove mobiles and other crib toys once your baby can sit up.

10. Your baby’s toybox should have a special safety lid (or no lid at all) to prevent it from slamming on her head or hands, or trapping her inside. There shouldn’t be any hinges that could pinch little fingers.

Wondering about the latest toy recalls? Check out Health Canada’s webpage devoted to consumer product recalls.

Meet our expert:

Elizabeth Pantley ( is the author of eight parenting books, including: The No-Cry Sleep Solution. She is also a contributing author to The Successful Child with Dr. William Sears. Based in Washington, Pantley is the president of Better Beginnings Inc. (a family resource and education company) and a parenting expert for a variety of publications including: Parents, Parenting, and Redbook.