Rolling over, crawling, mouthing, and teething—babies truly grow fast from being tiny, immobile bundles of love into active little explorers. So, while you likely had the best intentions when you color coordinated the nursery and added sentimental toys, now is the time to check: have you checked out the space for when your little one starts to roll over, crawl, or teeth on everything in sight?
If you have not reached this stage yet, then now’s a good time to assess what toys your baby has within easy reach. Some toys may unintentionally become hazardous as your child gets mobile—mostly, because they are too little to play with the toy appropriately. This warning is especially valid if you have any older siblings in the house. The toys they often leave lying around could be dangerous for your little adventurer.
These eight toys may seem innocuous, but they can pose a danger to a small baby. Use this list to baby proof your home and keep your little one safe from toy-related harm.
Cuddly plush toys gifted with love are a beautiful décor piece in most nurseries. However, you need to ensure that your baby doesn’t get hold of the toy if its eyes are made from regular-sized or small buttons. Or made of any kind of material that's small enough to present as a choking hazard if one should get loose.
Soft toys with sewn-on eyes made from felt or cotton are more appropriate if you’re planning to give the toy to your baby to play with.
Older siblings likely have a set of beautiful magnetic build-it toys, the kind with those shiny silver balls and rods. But these are one of the most hazardous toys for babies.
If a magnet is accidentally ingested—or even worse, two—they can attract each other in the digestive tract and tear through intestinal walls, causing untold damage. Likewise, if a magnet and other metal objects get ingested at the same time, the same thing can occur. If there’s a baby in the house, keep all magnetic toys far from reach, and always pack them away (and check all pieces are present) when playtime is over.
Who doesn’t love the sight of a cheerful bobbing balloon? Even most babies are especially drawn to the airy delight that hovers off the ground in bright, happy colors. They are a great toy and décor object for older kids. However, the risk of a balloon popping poses a huge risk to tiny babies. Not only is the baby getting injured by the latex ricocheting out, or partially deafened by the sound, but a balloon can also become a choking hazard if any of the small broken parts get ingested. Balloons are far safer to have in the house only when your baby is much older.
A toy hazard that most new parents don’t think of straight away are any toys with squeakers, including those cute squeaking bath time ducks or frogs. The squeaker that they have is very small, and it becomes incredibly dangerous if a baby somehow squeezes it free, or teeths on it and pulls it off. It can easily lodge in your baby’s throat.
Another overlooked issue with squeaky toys is that the squeaker in some of them can emit noise frequencies as high as 90—120 decibels, which can damage your baby’s eardrums. Rather remove the squeaker to make the toy more age appropriate.
Toys With Small Or Moveable Parts
While building toys is a great way to build fine motor skills, visual perception, and a host of other valuable skills, you need to ensure these toys and their parts are not small enough to become a choking hazard. Likewise, if you have older children who have toys with small moveable parts like wheels and beads, or action figures with items of clothing that are removable, these items must never end up anywhere near your baby. The risk of swallowing one of these small parts is far too high.
Battery Operated Toys
Those sweet little singalong books, small flashlights, and fast-paced racing cars are great to play with together. But they are something you should never, ever leave a baby alone with, even for a few minutes. Especially if the battery cover is at all loose in any way.
The coin-shaped batteries inside are the ones to be most worried about. The dangers of ingesting a small battery can lead to irreparable damage from internal chemical burns in as little as 2 hours.
While most baby mobiles adhere to the safety rule of not being too long or are strung up far enough away from the mattress in the crib, some baby mobiles don’t meet this safety requirement.
The long strings they have can tangle up in your babies’ limbs, cutting off blood flow if they tangle too tightly. And if a string somehow gets wrapped around your baby's neck, it could restrict their breathing or even lead to strangulation. It’s far safer to skip the baby mobile or only buy one that has no loose, dangling parts.
Playdough is generally quite safe for babies just over a year old to play with. But kinetic sand, on the other hand, is a big no-no if there’s a baby in the house.
The dimethicone in the sand that gives it its moldability can become a choking hazard for babies. If ingested in large quantities, it can adhere to the intestinal walls. It will get stuck and won’t pass through the body with the next bowel movement. This means your baby may have to have surgery to remove the unexpected gastrointestinal obstruction.
Keeping Your Little One Safe
While most toys on the market adhere to strict safety standards, it’s good to be aware that some have a suggested age limit for good reason. Before placing your baby on the floor to explore, it’s a good idea to cast an eye around to make sure there’s nothing potentially hazardous left in their surroundings, just in case.