You may have seen the news that some experts believe playgrounds are becoming “too safe”, but you’ll probably never see an article about children’s toy boxes or larger pieces of furniture being too safe.
While a merry-go-round can be fun (if slightly more dangerous than your average piece of playground equipment), it’s still made to accommodate children—unlike a heavy bookcase. If your children or students are in the “I can climb/jump/run over anything” phase, it’s a good idea to pay attention to a furniture’s safety before you buy.
And furniture tipping over is really just the tip of the iceberg—several types of furniture might use toxic plastic or have sharp edges dangerous for younger kids. Pay attention to safety features, and keep kids safe without limiting fun!
1. Anchor furniture and buy tip-resistant furniture.
Furniture tipping is a huge problem right now in the US, partly because consumers take the instructions for assembly lightly. If you currently have bookcases or cubbies that should be secured, but are not, it’s time to pull out a drill and do just that.
If you’re on the hunt for furniture right now, then seek out tip-resistant models such as the ECR4Kids Ladderback Chairs.
2. Look for natural wood or non-toxic plastic.
You may get that cute little stool on sale at your nearest housewares store, but the paint may contain toxic elements such as lead. The same goes for certain plastics, which can contain harmful toxins. Pay attention to the official “Greenguard Certification” label on a product, and avoid adding Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) or other pollutants into your child’s environment.
3. Opt for cushy soft seating options.
If you have toddlers, you’re familiar with those “soft corners” and “childproofing” products. Why not go for a playroom furniture set that’s entirely child proof? ECR4Kids offers an entire line of child-safe Softzone furniture made from phthalate-free vinyl and furniture-grade foam, including functional development pieces that help boost gross and fine motor skills. Children can slide safely down the High Rise Wall Climber and clamber up and down Primary Climber with a ball pit to get a safe and fun workout.
4. Avoid toy boxes kids can open easily (and slam shut).
How many times did you pinch your fingers in your childhood toy box? If you were like most children of the early 90s and before, you know the pain. A homemade wooden toybox might be cute, but if it’s not made with properly rounded/sanded edges, slow-moving hinges, and a lid that’s pinch-proof, it’s probably not the best option.
Instead, try a SoftZone Play and Store Mat, which doubles as a soft play mat when you’re not storing baby’s toys inside. Make it easier for older kids to stay organized, and use a Cubby Tray Cabinet with Assorted Bins.
5. Notice the safety details.
Just because a furniture piece looks safe doesn’t mean it actually is. Know what kinds of details to look for, including the following: full piano hinges, rounded edges, drawer stops, and anti-tip hardware. The ECR4Kids Birch 4-in-1 Play Kitchen is a good example: it has magnetic latches with full-length piano hinges to keep little fingers from getting pinched and is GreenGuard Certified (see #2). The Birch Play Kitchen Refrigerator goes right along with the kitchen set and has rounded edges for far fewer “owies”. It’s the little details like these that can make all the difference for your child’s safety.
6. Ensure furniture is age and developmentally appropriate.
We know that your child’s brain development is a combo of genetics and the right environment, and developmentally-appropriate furniture is a crucial part of this growth. In addition, you can greatly reduce the risk of injury from furniture if you only buy those that fit your child’s growth stage. Think about it—if your bookshelf is too large or tall for your toddler, they might try to reach that one book on the top. Instead, keep things in easy reach with the Colorful Essentials Toddler Single-Sided Book Shelf.
7. Pay attention to “indoor” or “outdoor” specifications.
If a product says “for indoor use only,” it’s important to take it at its word. It might be fun to bring indoor toys outside on a nice day—just make sure you don’t leave them to bleach or splinter in the sun. Stay on the safe side and choose an indoor/outdoor product that’s easy to keep clean and maintained. Make sure to check on your outdoor furniture regularly to ensure it’s still in a safe condition for kiddos to play with.
9. Properly maintain furniture hardware if necessary.
As we stated in tip #7, it’s super important to make sure you maintain your furniture. Just because something is hardy doesn’t mean it never needs to be checked for safety. Parts fall off, wear down, break, and even the safest children’s furniture can become hazards if you’re not paying attention. If you don’t have the bandwidth to check in regularly, try to switch to chairs and other items that don’t have loose parts or hardware, such as these super cheerful and nearly-indestructible ECR4Kids Resin Chairs.