That means fidget spinners are probably on a few Christmas lists this year. But as with any toy, parents should do some research to make sure it’s age-appropriate for their children.
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, fidget spinners definitely should not be in the hands of kids under 3 years of age and are usually recommended for children at least 12 years old, if not 14. Even if you intend the spinner as a gift for an older child, that means there should be some supervision or, for a change, some lecturing against sharing—or maybe both.
According to the CPSC:
• The plastic and metal spinners have small pieces that can be a choking hazard. Choking incidents involving children up to age 14 have been reported.
• “Light-up” fidget spinners may come with button or lithium coin cell batteries. These batteries are an ingestion risk for children and the larger lithium coin cells can lead to severe burns in the esophagus.
• Children of all ages should be warned not to put fidget spinners or small pieces in their mouths and not to play with the fidget spinner near their faces.
An additional set of guidelines can be applied to battery-operated fidget spinners, and the advice is also relevant for other battery-operated toys:
• Be present when products with batteries are charging.
• Never charge a product with batteries overnight while you are sleeping.
• Unplug your fidget spinner immediately once it is fully charged. If there is no indicator showing a full charge, unplug after one hour.
• Always use the cable that came with the fidget spinner.
• If the fidget spinner did not come with a cable, make sure the cable you use is undamaged and has the correct connections for charging.
• Have working smoke alarms in your house to protect you if there is a fire.
Of course, fidget spinners are not the only toys that require supervision and instructions to follow. Parents should always check a toy’s age guidelines to make sure it any toy is good fit for their child’s age, development and maturity level. Smaller items such as marbles, or toys with parts that can be taken or ripped off and are small enough for children to ingest, should not be given to kids 3 and under. These include magnets and “button” batteries, which can cause serious injury or death if ingested. One guideline is that if a piece can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not appropriate for kids in that age range.
Most toy-related injuries involve cuts and bruises, often to the head and face. But riding toys—especially non-motorized scooters—were responsible for nearly half of the toy-related deaths in 2016. Any riding toys—bikes, scooters, skateboards, skates—should be accompanied by the appropriate protective gear, which can include helmets and knee and wrist pads.
Other assurances to look for include crayons and markers that are labeled nontoxic and toys in general that are marked ATSM, which means the item has met the American Society for Testing and Materials Standards.
And once the toys have been unwrapped and are in use, remember to supervise, supervise, supervise. Everyone wants to have happy holidays and spending time with your kids as they get accustomed to new toys is a great way to do that and make sure they stay safe.