Safe toys and playthings
Hazards to be aware of as baby becomes more mobile and starts to explore their world.
Keeping baby safe is always a priority, but particularly so during this period when both ‘gross’ motor (large muscles arms and legs) and ‘fine’ motor (hands and fingers) skills are all developing rapidly. Baby may now be able to get to and manipulate objects previously out of their reach.
Check baby’s playthings for hazards
Playthings can be manufactured, homemade or household items that will interest baby during this stage of development. Regular checking is needed to ensure they aren’t going to harm baby in any way.
Recommend that parents check for the following hazards
- Parts that could come off and become a choking hazard (for example, ‘eyes’, wheels and buttons). For bought toys, the manufacturer’s recommended age for the toy is a helpful guide.
- Sharp points or edges – remembering that mouthing will be baby’s main method of exploration during this period.
- Size – a toy or plaything should not be able to fit into a paper towel roll. If it does, it’s too small for baby.
- Small, hard objects such as coins, marbles, little balls, batteries and buttons – these are potential choking hazards, and may belong to older siblings’ toys or activities.
- If baby has older siblings, try sourcing a playpen (second-hand or recycle centres often have them) or even a porta-cot, which provides a space for older kids to spread their play things out safely, away from baby.
- Toys with batteries need to be checked carefully to make sure the batteries are securely enclosed so babies can’t access them. They’re not only a choking hazard, but they also contain toxic materials — and if they’ve been inside a toy for a long time, they may be leaking.
- Toys with straps or strings that can strangle a young child. Anything longer than 18 centimetres (7 inches) can get wrapped around a child’s neck or limbs and cut into their skin or cause strangulation.
- Older or second-hand toys that may have lead-based paint or not meet current safety standards.
Toy libraries have age-appropriate playthings
Buying toys only to find that baby has ‘moved on’ and is no longer interested in them can be frustrating and expensive for parents. Toy libraries provide a range of toys to borrow that may be too expensive to buy, and they can offer toys specific to a child’s age and stage, current skills and interests.
Encourage whānau to make use of local opportunities to learn first aid.
See also the Well Child/Tamariki Ora | My health book(external link):
- page 214, Emergencies – Urgent action needed.
- page 217, CPR for babies under 1 year.
- page 220, Choking – Babies up to 1 year.