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Give babies the gift of safety

Learn to evaluate the safety of toys and equipment for babies and toddlers.

At first glance, that cuddly, brown plush bear may seem like the perfect gift for your friend's baby shower. But a closer examination could reveal some safety issues—that felt nose could come off and be a choking hazard. That neck ribbon could come loose and be a strangling threat.

Just because an item is for sale doesn't mean it's safe.

To help ensure that you're choosing safe baby gifts, follow these guidelines from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Crib toys

  • Choose crib gyms that can be secured at both ends to prevent a baby from pulling them into the crib.
  • Avoid crib toys with points that can hook clothing.

Baby gates

  • Be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions and warning labels to make sure you're using the right type of gate. For the top of stairs, use gates that can be attached to the wall.
  • Avoid accordion-style gates, which can trap a child's arm or neck.

Rattles, squeeze toys and teethers

Rattles, squeeze toys and teethers with small handles or parts pose a choking hazard.

  • Check rattles, squeeze toys and teethers for narrow handles or small ends that could reach into the back of a baby's mouth.
  • Avoid squeeze toys and rattles with ball-shaped ends.
  • Remove any string or tie that could fasten around a baby's neck.
  • Check squeeze toys to make sure the squeaker can't be removed.

Toy chests

Toy chest or trunk lids can fall on toddlers' heads or necks.

  • Find a toy chest with a lid that will stay open in any position.
  • Avoid toy chests with latches.
  • Look for a toy chest with ventilation holes. Children have suffocated after climbing into toy chests to hide or sleep.

Toys

Pay attention to the manufacturer's age and safety guidelines.

  • Look for toys labeled 3 and younger. Age labels show what ages a toy is safe for. And they can help you decide which toys your little one might enjoy.
  • Look for toys made of sturdy, durable materials that won't break or shatter if a child throws or bangs them.
  • Check that the eyes and noses on stuffed animals and dolls are firmly attached. Remove all ribbons.

Clothing

Drawstrings in the hoods of children's coats and sweatshirts can catch on playground equipment, fences or cribs. Most clothing manufacturers voluntarily removed drawstrings from their products beginning in 1995.

  • Look for clothing with safe fasteners such as Velcro and snaps.
  • Before handing down used clothing, remove any drawstrings.

Safety gifts

You can also buy gifts that will help make a baby's home a safer place to grow. Try topping your gift with a package of child safety locks for drawers and cabinets or safety plugs for electrical outlets.

Reviewed 8/18/2022

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