One of the most useful things I learned about when my son was a baby was the "small object tester." Unless you are EXTREMELY frugal, this a free tool that most everyone has access to right now. I got this information at the Department of Children's Services when I was getting certified. If it fits in a toilet paper tube, it is chokable. Many companies from Safety First to Discovery toys sell this tool for a nominal fee, but this serves the same function and if your children are anything like mine you can have a brand new one every day... Also of note, be wary, some things seem safe size wise, but small alterations can make them otherwise. A great example of this is the balloon. Blown up it passes the test, but broken balloons are one of the leading causes of choking among children. My son's pediatrician warned ice cubes are the same. She said by the time the cube melts it could be too late. I love doctors who educate while they treat. That being said, this is a tool that is generally used to assess danger, but not a guarantee of an items safety. Children can choke on anything. My husband as a child chewed a hole in the back of his fathers seat while he was driving. It could have choked him & definitely did not fit in a tube. On the other hand, I have a three year old and the above bee my son is holding next to the toilet paper tube was marketed for children three and up. It did not pass the test. It is definitely a toy we watch. The tube made me view my home differently. It made me more aware and helped me prepare a safer environment for my little guy. I hope it does the same for you. As always questions and comments are welcome.
Although the tube can help identify potentially hazardous pieces, nothing can take the place of close parental supervision, common sense and knowledge of toy safety.