December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Why is this important? According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are about 200,000 cases of toy-related injuries reported each year. In addition to these injuries, according to a report by CPSC in 2018, there were 17 toy-related deaths among children that are younger than 15 years old. These death injuries were associated with nonmotorized scooters, rubber balls and balloons, stuffed toys, water toys, plastic toy foods, water guns, and toy dart guns. In recent years, the CPSC has then created a stronger toy safety system to ensure toy-productions that are safe enough for children, as well as to decrease possible toy-related injuries. As December is considered the biggest gift-giving month, while it can be exciting during the gifts selecting part, however it is still important to choose toys and gifts that are safe and age-appropriate for the little ones.

How to Increase Toy Safety:

  1. Always read the label. Every toy includes warning label, instructions, as well as age recommendations. Many may ignore such labels when selecting gifts, yet this is one of the most important steps before buying them. Also, don’t forget to look for any small pieces that show a choking hazard.
  2. Inspect the toys. You should always make sure to inspect the toys before buying them. It is recommended to avoid toys that have sharp edges, those with lots of little parts, or parts that can be easily teared out – the inspection part is crucial when choosing toys for babies and toddlers.
  3. Select age-appropriate toys. Be sure to check the age and skill level that are marked on the toy, only buy it when they match with the child.
  4. Teach children. Do consider getting a storage box for your children’s toys. In the meantime, you’ll be able to teach children to put their toys away after playing with them so that they are not laying around where injuries can happen.
  5. Avoid toys with certain materials. Do not consider buying toys with ropes, cords, or those that can be heated up. When choosing crayons and markers for your children, make sure checking the label that says “nontoxic” before purchasing. If the products include magnets, do know that high-powered magnet sets are dangerous for younger children. Magnets or batteries may be accidentally ingested by children, which can cause serious injuries.
  6. Think LARGE. Before purchasing gifts for children, consider choosing toys that are larger than their mouths to prevent choking.
  7. Get up-to-date product recalls news. Safe Kids gathers all product recalls and sends reminder e-mail alerts for those who are interested. You can use the link here to sign up: Safe Kids Product Recalls

Choosing Toys that Promote Children’s Development

  • Not only it is important to choose toys that are safe for your child, but let’s not forget the fact that toys can also help support your child’s development. Hence, parents can select toys that are able to help children to learn and enhance skills.
  • The table below shows a list of toys for you to consider when choosing the right toy for your little ones; the toys are divided by the four areas of development.
    • Language – children tend to develop more vocabulary when they share with others about what they’re playing with, some toys can help to enhance children’s pre-reading skills
    • Cognitive –some toys can enhance children’s persistence, memory, ability to focus, and attention span, which are all important skills for kindergarten readiness. Be mindful that toys should be intellectually challenging, but not TOO DIFFICULT
    • Social and Emotional – toys can foster children’s social and emotional development by enhancing their self-esteem when engaging in sharing and cooperating with others
    • Motor – toys that can enhance children’s motor development can build children’s small and large muscles, these include toys that encourage jumping, throwing, or kicking. When children play with the same toys repetitively, their movements will be refined overtime.
Language Cognitive Social & Emotional Motor
Toddlers Preschoolers Toddlers Preschoolers Toddlers Preschoolers Toddlers Preschoolers
Alphabet blocks Doll house Blocks Lego Cars, trains, and trucks Dress-up costumes Doll strollers Art supplies
Play food Mr. Potato Head Nesting or stacking toys Puzzles Dolls Doctor’s kit Large balls Bath toys
Nursery rhyme books Farm set Shape sorters Simple board games Play phone Cash register Rocking horses Stroller
Playhouse Picture book Large-piece puzzles Dominoes Peg boards Tricycle
  Matching games Card games Slides
  Magnetic letters Sorting games


By, Jessica Lau, MHC Intern