Choosing Safe Travel Toys for the Car

In 2016, there were almost 116,000 car accidents in Canada, injuring over 160,000 victims. (Just over 1,700 of those accidents had fatalities.) You have to drive your kids around so it’s best to be prepared. We’ve talked in previous posts about child car seat safety issues and how to choose the right car seat for your baby. In this post, we’re taking the family safety discussion one step further: safe travel toys for cars.

What Makes a Travel Toy Safe for the Car?

The Car Seat Lady, begun by American registered nurse Debbi Baer, continued by her daughter, pediatrician Alisa Baer, and now run by Emily Levine, a nationally certified Child Passenger safety technician, reminds parents to make sure a car’s interior is safe. That includes any travel toys.

“Lightweight objects can become deadly missiles in a crash,” they write on their Car Seat Lady blog, “where an object or person will weigh their weight MULTIPLIED by the speed of the crash!”

To give you an example, a 5-lb DVD player in a 30 mph (48 km/h) crash acts as though it’s really 150 lbs. Although your baby won’t be playing with any kind of 5-lb toy, if you have older kids in the vehicle, maybe check that they leave none of their toys lying around when not in use.

Travel toys for the car
Travel toys for the car

Clean Car Can Contribute to Safe Sojourn

You always knew there was a reason to keep things clean, right? In the case of your vehicle, it’s for safety. You don’t need to have all toys stored in suitcases in the cargo area, but don’t leave them lying around either. Car Seats for Littles suggests letting kids have a backpack with their favourite travel toys for a trip to Grandma and Grandpa. But instead of letting it sit next to them, place it under their feet.

If you like to keep the same items in the car all the time, e.g., safe travel toys, extra outerwear, diapers, etc., Car Seats for Littles recommends a soft-sided bin you store on the floor. And remember, anything lose in a car can go flying in an accident, not just toys. This includes extra jackets, your cup of coffee, first-aid kits, and sippy cups for the kids. Do your best to insure these items are safely stored.

Safe Travel Toys for Babies

You’ll frequently see pictures of toys hanging from a baby car seat. If you attach a toy to the handle of your baby’s car seat, The Car Lady suggests you first make sure the manufacturer says it’s OK, then make sure the toy passes “the ouch test.”

“The ouch test” will help you gage if a travel toy is appropriate for the car. It goes like this: if you say “ouch” when you hit yourself in the head with the toy, then “it will hurt your child in a crash,” the website says.

The Car Lady reminds readers that laws don’t legislate everything. So even if a toy is legal and meets Canadian safety standards , it doesn’t mean it’s safe for travel. The Car Lady recommends over 100 entertainment ideas for kids in cars and airplanes, including safe travel toys for cars. They do warn that some won’t pass the ouch test and are therefore more suitable for airplanes. However, they say, all toys “likely” weigh less than a sippy cup of water and none have sharp edges.

When you’re searching for safe travel toys for the car, don’t be fooled by websites that advertise the “best” travel toys for cars. Instead, look for toys that truly are safe for your little one. Happy driving!

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