December 13, 2017 December 13, 2017

Buying Toys Isn't Child's Play

When my mom, a pediatric nurse who spent 30 years in pediatric intensive care, came to visit over the holidays, she freaked over our toybox. Haphazardly mixed in with all the perfect developmental toys were gifts from family members and my husband, mostly stuffed animals or toys that were plainly out of my five-month-old's age range.

My mom picked out a slew of stuffed teddies and bunnies, looked me in the eye and said, "Janie, I don't want to scare you, but over the years I can't count how many times we had a baby not much older than yours pass away because of toys like these."

WHAT!? They're just stuffed animals! What she explained to me in the ensuing conversation I've turned into some helpful tips that I hope all of you will review and keep in mind when you go to the toy store for your new baby starting to discover the world of toys.

  • First, and perhaps most important of all, stuffed toys for infants and small children should never have button or plastic eyes. Babies chew on them, and after a while, they give, creating a deadly situation - an infant with a small piece of plastic in his mouth and a huge choking hazard.
  • Second, what are these cute critters stuffed with? Many fillers contain toxins and are not really intended for little ones to play with. Toys from vending machines, mass produced stuffed animals sold in discount bins, and the kinds of things you win playing skee ball aren't the best fodder for your tot.
  • Third, always follow the age ranges on toys. Older kid playthings have smaller parts that little ones can choke on and often make louder noises that tiny ears aren't ready for yet. If you just love it and want your kid to have it, write down the name of the toy or buy it and keep it until next Christmas - trust me, it's worth the wait, and your child will be old enough before you know it!

Now here's what to do:

  • When buying stuffed animals, ensure that all teddy bear ears, noses and eyes are embroidered and not plastic fixtures.
  • Look for nontoxic toys and toys made in the U.S. where standards for assembly and content are stricter.
  • Shop online for all natural toys and toys stuffed with organic cotton and made with 100 percent certified nontoxic materials - they're out there and they don't all cost a fortune!

Some of this stuff may seem super obvious, but sometimes it's the most obvious stuff that we overtaxed moms forget in a haze of exhaustion. Play it safe and remind friends and relatives to do the same when they buy toys for your tot.