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How to Choose Infant and Toddler Equipment and Toys


If you've shopped for anything from baby shampoo to play yards recently, you probably noticed that for each product, you are faced with a lot of options. While options are great in theory, it can make the buying process more complicated than you bargained for.

Consumer Product Safety Commission

Some parents seek the advice of fellow parents in the search for the best crib, infant bathtub or motorized toy. Other parents may scour the Internet, reading consumer reviews and product ratings on various websites. Regardless of your research technique, the process can be exhausting, and you may discover that reports aren't always completely reliable or up to date. To minimize your frustration, try beginning your research at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

The CPSC puts recalls, safe product guidelines and safety standards for childhood products in one place. Here you'll be able to navigate to the exact product you're searching for and learn the basics before you head to the store.

Popular product guidelines

Cribs

On June 28, 2011, new crib safety requirements became effective. While it may be cost effective to use second-hand or hand-me-down cribs, the Consumer Product Safety Commission urges consumers not to use cribs over 10 years old. Any crib bought or sold in the United States must meet the following five new requirements:

  • The production and sale of drop-side cribs is prohibited, and immobilizers and repair kits are not allowed.
  • Wood slats now require stronger wood to prevent breaks.
  • Crib hardware must have preventative anti-loosening devices to ensure the crib stays stable.
  • Mattress supports must now be more durable.
  • Cribs now undergo more intense safety testing.

Though you might expect all new cribs to meet these safety standards, unfortunately glitches do happen. Search for "cribs" on the CPSC recall page before you make your decision. No matter which brand, color or style of crib you decide on, remember that the crib is only safe if it is put together properly and used correctly. Closely follow the assembly directions; place your child's crib away from uncovered outlets, curtains or other loose objects; and follow the "bare is best" slogan by keeping stuffed animals, blankets and pillows out of your child's crib.

Play yards

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has approved new mandatory federal play yard safety standards.

  • A stability test is required to prevent imbalance and tipping.
  • Lock mechanisms are mandatory to prevent the collapse of the play yard while in use.
  • Play yards are tested for floor strength and for entrapment when a bassinet or other attachment is in use.
  • Play yards must meet minimum side height requirements to prevent children from getting in and out of the play yard on their own.
  • Play yards are tested to prevent the top rails from collapsing and creating head or neck entrapments.

For more information on the latest play yard standards, search for "play yards" on the CPSC website.

Toys

Toys may not be a necessity of childhood, but they certainly are fun! To maximize your child's amusement from toys and minimize safety hazards, make sure that toys are safe, intact and age appropriate.

  • Infants 0-6 months. Infants of this age tend to put most toys in their mouths, so refrain from giving your child anything sharp, electrical or anything with small parts. Children in this age group may like making noise and grasping toys. Consider brightly colored objects with simple designs.
  • Infants 7-12 months. Infants of this age may be ready for simple operating toys, including sorting or stacking toys or those with levers. Continue to keep small, sharp or breakable objects out of reach.
  • Toddlers 1-2 years. Toddlers can use manipulative toys, puzzles with a few large pieces, building blocks, push and pull toys, and ride on toys. Children around this age may be experimenting with climbing, so be sure to supervise closely on playground equipment.

For a complete list and explanation of age appropriate toys from birth to age five, visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission website and view the Which Toy for Which Child consumer guide. You may also view the list of CPSC Toy Safety Publications.

Before you rush off to buy the latest thing in baby gear, take a little time to browse through the CPSC website for all products, including car seats, strollers, playground equipment and household items. If you're overwhelmed at the beginning of your product search, just remember that the CPSC can help you steer in the right direction and avoid dangerous or recalled products. If, at any time, you wish to search for reports or recalls on particular products or brands, or to simply browse the latest recall lists, visit SaferProducts.gov and browse the popular categories or search for a particular product. By keeping safety in mind while you shop, you can help your child stay safe, healthy and happy!


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