Most toys sold in the U.S. have a specific age range on them, as children have different developmental needs and safety considerations. However, our Texas child injury attorney has found that daycare centers don’t always pay close enough attention to who is playing with which toys—potentially putting children in an unsafe situation if they use a toy in the wrong manner.
What Makes an Age-Appropriate Toy?
Numerous factors play a role in determining if a toy is age-appropriate. Some of these factors include:
- Label guidance. Label recommendations are a good starting point for determining if a child should play with a toy. Unlabeled toys are typically best to avoid because there’s no clear indication of their appropriateness. They also could have been recalled due to potential safety concerns.
- Developmental appropriateness. Not all children learn and develop skills in assessing risk at the same age. The child’s behavior and development stage should play a role in toy selection. For example, a child who explores toys by mouth needs limitations on any toy with small parts due to the risk of choking, regardless of their age.
- Safe size. Younger children are not likely to remain safe while playing with a toy that fits completely inside their mouth. Larger toys that can be squeezed or molded into a small size can also become a choking hazard.
- Quality construction. A poorly-made product may easily have portions break off or tear. This may create a sharp area that could cause a cut, but it may also lead to sharp parts being swallowed.
- Safe finish. The exterior covering of the surface of the toy needs careful attention. It should be made with a durable paint or finish that’s non-toxic. It should not peel or splinter.
- Cleanliness. It’s not possible to clean all toys well, especially those made of soft fabrics. If a toy cannot be washed easily, it could spread germs or become a home for dangerous bacteria.
These are some basic guidelines for the selection of safe toys. Keep in mind that a toy that’s safe for one child may not be safe for another.
Dangers of Inappropriate Toys
A toy that’s unsafe for a child puts that child at risk in some way. This may occur in various ways. For example:
- The toy may have paint that peels off. The child may consume the paint, which can lead to toxic exposure.
- A toy with a broken arm or leg may easily be placed into a child’s mouth. They could swallow it and choke on it or develop other digestive complications.
- Broken toys may have sharp edges that may lead to cuts or more serious lacerations. This may also inflict damage to a child’s eyes.
- Too small toys may lead to a swallow hazard as even children who are school-aged may still attempt to place the toy in their mouth.
- Electric toys used improperly could have a shock risk to children. This could lead to significant burns.
- Falls from a toy that’s too large or not meant for the child of the child may lead to head injuries, lacerations, broken bones, and other risks.
Examples of Age-Appropriate Toys
Choosing toys that are safe may seem complex. There are many factors to think about when choosing toys for a daycare or even at-home play. Consider some recommendations:
- For children under 6 months of age, choose toys that have bright colors and items with faces. Look for board books, soft dolls, toys they can shake to make noise, or large, brightly colored rings. Choose toys with soft music or storytelling.
- For children between 7 and 12 months, consider toys that foster pretend play, such as puppets, soft plastic toys such as vehicles, and water toys. Soft blocks and wooden cubes too large to place in the mouth may be acceptable.
- For those who are 1 to 2 years old, select toys that are made with non-toxic paints and materials. Toy phones, dollars, and dress-up accessories may be appropriate as long as they are no strings or wires on them.
- For older toddlers, pretend play and building sets may be appropriate as long as there is supervision and all of the pieces are too large to place in the mouth. Choose dress-up clothing, transportation toys, and riding toys appropriate for their physical abilities.
How to Find Out What Your Child Was Playing With
If your child was hurt in an accident at school with a toy, you may not have all of the details initially. Some daycare centers may refuse to provide exact information about the toy or may not even know what was happening.
A daycare injury attorney is the best professional to turn to in this situation. Your attorney will work to gather information about what toys were present from witness statements, available video footage, and facility reports. This can shed some light on what occurred so that you can take appropriate steps if your child was exposed to unnecessary risks.
Reasons to File a Daycare Injury Case
If your child has suffered injuries in this environment, it’s essential to take action. You may wish to do this if:
- Your child complains about pain or injuries resulting from using toys.
- A medical emergency occurred during daycare.
- The child’s injuries seem to be related to the use of a specific toy or otherwise unexplained, even if the daycare center has stated nothing happened.