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Baby Toy Safety Tips

The same toys that delight and stimulate your baby can hurt her. Choking, suffocation and strangulation are all risks posed by baby's playthings. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2012 alone about 89,500 children younger than 5 were treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries. Before Pinky the Pig becomes a beloved toy, make sure it passes a few tests.

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Use the Tube Test

Your baby's an equal-opportunity chomper: whatever toy you give her, she'll try to stuff it into her mouth at some point. This means small items are a choking hazard. Any toy she handles should be at least 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches in length according to KidsHealth. The parts must be larger than that as well. Test every object using a toilet paper roll. If the toy can pass through the tube, it's too small.

Embrace Your Inner Child

Your baby will give a toy a beating, which could lead to damage, which in turn could lead to dangerous broken pieces. Test each item yourself to ensure it can withstand his grabs and bites. If you can damage a toy, get rid of it. Look too for splinters or sharp edges in wooden toys, and remove any straps, strings or cords that could fit around a child's neck.

Question a Toy's History

Helping your baby build a tower with your old blocks is a sweet moment, but be wary of passing on hand-me-downs. Potential lead issues make any painted toy made before 1978 unsafe for the baby. And while lead testing kits are available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns against using them. KidsHealth says to avoid baby toys won from carnivals, fairs and vending machine games. They may not conform to current safety standards.

RELATED: Washing Toys to Prevent Germs

Wage War On Germs

Clean any toy the baby gets when she first receives them. Clean them again after they've been in her mouth, after she's been ill and after they've been handled by other children. Most stuffed animals can be washed in cool water in the washing machine. Place small, non-electronic plastic toys in mesh laundry bags and wash them in the dishwasher. Other hard toys can be wiped down with a mild disinfectant solution. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center advises mixing 1 tablespoon of household bleach into 1 gallon of cool water. Make a fresh batch each time you wash toys.

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