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How To Buy Toys That Are Fun -- And Safe


Choosing-poorly designed toys or toys that aren’t age-appropriate for your child can lead to more harm than fun.  

Shelli Stephens-Stidham, director of the Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas, based at Parkland Hospital System, says federal regulations are in place to try to ensure toy safety. But she says parents still need to be careful.

Shelli Stephens-Stidham’s advice for selecting safe toys:

  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child.  Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.        
  • Read all toy instructions carefully before buying the toy.
  • To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under 10 years of age) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
  • Children under 3 years of age can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under 3 years of age cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Parents should store toys in a designated location, such as on a shelf or in a toy chest, and keep older kids’ toys away from young children.

For more information:

List of the 10 Most Dangerous Toys

Consumer Product Safety Commission: Toy Safety

Consumer Product Safety Commission: Toy-Related Injuries 

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.