We are happy when toys leave our store and end up in the hands of children that love to play with them. We always hope that they will get years of joy out of their cherished playthings, while also learning and gaining important skills along the way through play. While it is certainly ideal for toys to remain intact and safe until the time comes that children are ready to move on to new toys, we understand that sometimes, even the best toys, can break or become unsafe from lots of “hard playing.”
Monitoring children’s toys to keep them safe is an important responsibility of parents and other caregivers. We try to select only the best, safest toys for children, but once the toys are in a child’s home, maintaining their safety is an essential part of keeping play both fun and safe. But, what can you do to keep toys safe? And, when should you discard of a much-loved toy for the safety of a child? To help make this responsibility easier for caregivers, we are happy to offer some tips and advice on toy monitoring and toy safety once toys leave the toy store and enter the toy box.
Tips on Keeping Toys Safe and Discarding Them
- Make adult supervision an important component of play. By staying involved in a child’s playtime, you will not only be able to better ensure his or her safety, but you will have the opportunity to share in fun, quality time together. While children will simply love the bonding time created through this toy play, adults can also use this opportunity to inspect toys and to have a better understanding of how children interact with their toys. Knowing how a child treats toys will help adults evaluate when it is time to discard of a toy after months of play.
- Provide a safe play environment. Knowing the toys with which a child is playing will help adults evaluate the safety of the environment where the play is taking place. Using a riding toy at the top of the stairs or playing a game of catch near a pool could pose potential safety hazards. While the toys themselves are safe for use, the environments in which they are being used make them more of a danger to children.
- Teach children about safe play. While playing with a child, it is important to set a good example by playing with their toys properly. If a toy features instructions, be sure to share those with the child and show them that play time is more fun when you follow the instructions provided and play with toys in the way with which they were meant to be played. Be sure to supervise when older children play with younger children, as older children can sometimes play with toys in a manner other than what was intended, which can make play unsafe.
- Make cleaning up after play an important part of play time. Putting toys away after play not only helps to prevent potential injuries from obstacles on the floor, but it also helps keep toys in the best condition possible. Whatever system you devise for cleaning up toys, whether it is utilizing a toy box or using organized shelving, children need to understand its importance for safe play and preserving their precious toys. Clean up of toys is especially important in a household where older children’s toys can be dangerous to younger children – make sure these toys are not accessible to those too young to play with them.
- Inspect toys regularly to determine their safety. Adults should take time to inspect children’s toys, looking for damaged parts, missing pieces, sharp edges, or other safety hazards. After lots of play, a toy’s safety may be compromised, so it is important to keep checking a child’s playthings for any potential concerns – don’t just assume that because a child is still able to play with a toy that it is still safe to use. And, don’t forget to check the batteries if the toy requires them, as old or leaking batteries are dangerous!
- When you can, repair; when you cannot, discard. Sometimes, all a toy needs is a simple repair to be like new again – just be sure to take care of these repairs immediately, so a child can still enjoy the toy. But, in the instance when a toy is beyond repair or too dangerous for play, do not hesitate to discard of the toy. If the toy is a near and dear to the child, it can always be replaced with a newer, safer version. While we hope you will not have to remove a favorite toy of children for safety issues, it may have to happen – better to deal with a tantrum then the possibility of injury!
So, while we know that playing with toys is a top priority of children, it should now be a priority for adults too. Supervising children, inspecting their toys, and teaching them about safe play through example are very important parts of keeping a child’s play environment safe, allowing them to enjoy their toys and cherish the fun for years to come. Remember – a toy is fun for children when they are happy and healthy and able to safely play with it!