Often church nurseries depend on donations of used toys. While many used toys are still safe and make excellent additions to the nursery, remember this criteria as you select and accept toys for your nursery. Before you accept any toy — used or new — have a designated person from your nursery staff or committee carefully inspect it to be certain it meets these five guidelines.
Lane Nemeth, founder and CEO of Discovery Toys, Inc., suggests five easy-to-remember points to help determine toy safety.
1. Choose the Right Size.
Bigger is better in regard to toys for infants and toddlers to keep small parts out of the mouth. Any toy or part of a toy such as eyes, wheels, or bells can fall off, be pulled off, or be chewed off and then become a choking hazard. These small parts can also be placed in and get stuck in an ear or nose. If a toy or part is small enough to fit in a cardboard toilet paper tube or is not larger than a child’s fist, it’s too small for children who are putting things in their mouths — no matter what age the child is.
While young children love balloons, small balls, and marbles, most choking deaths among young children are a result of swallowing these items. Keep balloons away from children under 8.
2. Choose the Right Shape and Surface.
Be certain the toys in your nursery have no sharp points or rough, jagged edges. Regularly re-check toys to be sure screws, nails, or other fasteners are secure.
3. Measure All Strings.
Make sure any strings, cords, ribbons, tails, or straps aren’t more than 7 inches long as a young child may easily become entangled in a string and choke.
4. Provide Adequate Supervision.
Pay close attention to the age a toy is intended for. If children play with a toy that they’re too young or too old for, the possibility for injury due to misuse increases. Even a safe toy, if used other than intended, may cause injury.
5. Choose Quality and Durability.
If a toy is made from cheap components, it’s more likely to break, which means necessary replacement and potential injuries. Look on the packaging for a statement that the toy complies with the ASTM F963 safety standards. This standard used to evaluate the safety of toys means the toy has been tested to determine what age of children may safely play with it, that it’s made of nontoxic and nonflammable components, and that there are no small parts that may present a choking hazard.