Check the manufacturer's label to see if the toy is age appropriate for your child. If you have children of different ages, keep a separate toy chest for each child. Not all toys are appropriate for all children.
Look for sturdy construction on toys, such as tightly secured eyes and noses on plush toys.
Check jackets or tops for drawstrings around the hood or neck. If you see one, the item does not comply with federal safety guidelines. Remove the drawstring or return the item to the place of purchase.
Children should not use ride-on toys near moving or parked automobiles, pools, ponds or stairs. Be aware of your child's surroundings during play.
If you purchase a bicycle, roller skates or skateboards, make sure you also purchase the appropriate safety gear, including reflective clothing or stickers, elbow pads, wrist guards, kneepads and a helmet.
Carefully follow the manufacturers' age recommendations for toys that contain small high-powered magnets, and do not purchase toys with small magnets for young children. Serious injury or death can occur if magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed.
Many recalls involve lead. The most common item recalled for lead has been inexpensive metal jewelry. Lead has also been found in toy fishing poles, educational toys, sunglasses, chairs, sidewalk chalk and cribs.
Always supervise children in public, including trips to the restroom. Have a plan in case you become separated from your child, including a pre-designated spot to meet for older children. Make sure your children have your cell phone number memorized.
Check to make sure you do not have any recalled children's products in your home; your child's daycare or any place that you bring your child. A complete list of recalled children's products as well as printable brochures such as "Child Care Safety Checklist", "Baby Product's Safety Alert", and "Baby Monitor Safety Alert" are available for free from the Federal Consumer Product Safety Commission. That Web site address is www.cpsc.gov.
Once the gifts are opened, immediately discard plastic wrappings and other packaging. Changing batteries should be supervised by an adult. Pay close attention to warning and instructions on chargers and adapters as they may pose a thermal burn hazard to young children.