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Toy Safety: Preschoolers (3 to 6 Years)

Children's imaginations flourish during the preschool years. Play takes up a lot of preschoolers' time, and helps them learn. Dramatic play now becomes popular, and children imitate familiar roles. They also tend to prefer "natural" toys like mud, sand, or water that let them be creative. Likewise, working with art materials also releases creative energy.

Preschoolers do not like too many rules and regulations when they play. They love to invent their own games. Their attention span is short, so activities that take a short time are best. Young children enjoy playing “dress up” and imaginary games.

Preschoolers need close supervision because most play-related accidents and injuries occur within this age group. Check if your child's toys are safe and make sure your child has proper adult supervision.

Toy Safety Checklist

  • The toy’s label says that it is made for children the age of your child.
  • Broken toys are fixed right away or thrown away.
  • A stuffed doll or animal is made with strong material and thread and not filled with small, loose pellets.
  • All moving parts are securely attached.
  • All riding toys are well-constructed and well-balanced.
  • Art projects use only water-based paints and nontoxic clay.
  • Take your child with you to pick out a helmet and make sure the fit is correct. Insist children always wear a fitted helmet to ride tricycles or bikes, and when on skates.
  • Indoor toys are kept indoors so they do not rust.
  • Make sure that toy chests do not have a heavy, free-falling lid. Make sure there is ventilation in any toy chest or storage box large enough for your child to fall or climb into.
  • No part of the toy, including print and decoration, is poisonous. Make sure the toy is labeled non- toxic and does not contain lead.
  • Avoid toys with small batteries or magnets.
  • No part of the toy, such as a doll's hair bow, is attached with a straight pin or staple.
  • Old baby furniture and toys have not been painted or repainted with lead-based paint.
  • Pay attention to the age recommendations on toy labels. Don't try to challenge your child by buying a toy recommended for an older child.
  • The toy cannot break and leave a sharp, jagged edge.
  • The toy does not have sharp edges that can cut or scratch.
  • The toy is not too heavy for your child's strength.
  • The toy is well-constructed. (A poorly made toy can break or come apart.)
  • The wheels on riding toys are large, sturdy, and spaced far apart.
  • The gears in a mechanical toy are enclosed to avoid catching hair, fingers, and clothing.
  • There are no pointed objects your child can fall on.
  • There are no slots or holes that can pinch your child's fingers.
  • Toys made with cloth carry the labels "flame resistant", "flame retardant", or "nonflammable".

Keep uninflated balloons out of reach and throw away all broken balloons. More children have suffocated on uninflated balloons and pieces of broken balloons than on any other type of toy.

Suggested Play Materials

  • Huge carton or box
  • Large and small toy cars, trucks, and trains
  • Cuddly toy animals
  • Washable unbreakable doll
  • Simple musical instruments
  • Farm and zoo animal sets
  • Miniature circus, hospital, or fire station sets
  • Large balls
  • Costume dress-up box
  • Sand box and sand toys
  • Water toys
  • Art supplies: paints, modeling clay, paste, colored paper, and blunt scissors. Make sure crayons and paints are non-toxic.
  • Puppets (store-bought or homemade)
  • Wagon to ride in
  • Tricycles and bikes that are the right size for your child
  • Crawl-through play equipment
  • Simple construction sets
  • Toy walkie-talkie
  • Miniature household items: play telephone, toy garden tools, doll house and furniture, plastic dishes
  • Books:
    • Nonsense and nursery rhyme
    • Books about familiar people and places
    • Fun, playful books

Look for toy recalls posted on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) homepage, http://www.CPSC.gov; toll free number 1-800-638-2772. You can search by toy description and manufacturer. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) provides good information on toy safety at http://www.toysafety.net.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2013.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-12-26
Last reviewed: 2012-12-26
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2013 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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