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Keep safety tips in mind before buying toys for children By Haley Lacuesta

A parent’s top priority is the safety and health of their child, but many parents may unknowingly make mistakes when purchasing toys for their children.

As the holidays roll around and wish lists are compiled, Diane Bales, a University of Georgia Cooperative Extension human development specialist, urges parents to be aware of potential dangers.

“There are hazards — especially for very young children — in certain toys,” Bales said.

One of the more subtle oversights consumers make is buying toys that aren’t age appropriate for children, Bales said.

Most toys will have a recommended age range printed somewhere on the packaging. While these recommendations aren’t necessarily perfect, as every child develops at his or her own rate, they do provide a frame of reference, she said.

A toy’s suggested age range could also raise a red flag in terms of safety. Toys labeled for children over 3 years of age may have small pieces or other features that could cause choking or strangulation risk to younger children.

“If you have a 1-year-old and the package recommends ages 8 and up, you should probably think very carefully about whether this product is appropriate and whether it will be interesting for the child,” Bales said.

Another red flag to keep an eye out for when shopping is warning labels. You should expect to see a warning label on any toy with pertinent information such as flame resistant or washable/hygienic materials.

“If a toy has small parts and doesn’t have that kind of labeling, chances are it was manufactured somewhere else (internationally) and not checked very carefully,” Bales said. “Things that are sold in the U.S. are supposed to have those warning labels on them.”

For more on toy safety, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website for recall information and safety guides.

(Haley Lacuesta is a student worker with the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.)

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