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Toy Safety for Children this Holiday Season

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The month of December is National Safe Toys and Gifts Month, just in time for the holidays. McFarland Clinic has advice for choosing toys and gifts to ensure everyone has a happy and safe holiday.

Check Toy Labels for Safety Information

Check the package’s label to ensure it is safe. Make sure the toy is intended to be a toy, and that it is age-appropriate for your child. Children playing with toys that are not age-appropriate may be harmed due to small parts, sharp edges, or chemicals.

Review the label to make sure it doesn’t have a choking hazard, that it is non-toxic, and that it is washable.

Look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approval stamp on the toy’s package. UL is a certification company that tests products to meet specific requirements of safety.

Do a Toy Check-up

Toys can be damaged at any time. Periodically evaluate toys after they have been played with by a child to check for broken or missing parts. Changes in toys can be dangerous to children, even if it was originally bought and reviewed as safe.

Hazards to watch for:

  • Sharp edges or points on toys
  • Loose parts, cords, or strings that could become choking hazards
  • Toys that could pinch a child
  • Stuffed toys full of beads that open and can be ingested

Toys and Products to Avoid

Contact with certain products can cause complications for children.

Button Batteries

Button batteries could be swallowed by young children, or they could stick them in their ear or nose. A child needs to seek medical attention right away if they swallow a battery.

Small Magnets

Small magnets are a choking hazard, and if two or more magnets are swallowed, they could pull the intestine together and cause damage, obstruction, or life-threatening injuries.

Shooting Toys

Shooting toys can cause eye injuries.

Crib Toys

Crib toys can be dangerous due to suffocation risk. All mobiles should be high enough that the child cannot reach them. When the child pushes up or is five months old, mobiles should come down due to strangulation risk.

Safety Tips for Choosing Toys

Look for age limits on toy packages. These limits indicate which toys are appropriate for a child's age as well as their physical and cognitive capabilities.

Check toys for a label about parts that could cause choking, which should be avoided for children under the age of 3.

Here are additional tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to consider while shopping for toys:

  • When selecting stocking stuffers and other trinkets, beware of toy jewelry that may contain lead or cadmium. Both substances can be harmful to children who put items into their mouths.
  • Small items also can be risky for young children. For children under age 3, choose toys that are at least 1¼ inches in diameter and 2¼ inches long, so they will not lodge in a child’s mouth or throat.
  • Toys containing magnets also pose risks to young children. If more than one magnet is swallowed, the magnets can attract each other and cause intestinal perforations or blockages, which can be fatal.
  • For older children who find electronic gifts exciting, parents can help set a balance by also offering creative toys. The AAP recommends that children over age 2 have no more than two hours of screen time each day from all sources of media (e.g., television, video games, and the Internet). Check the label to make sure electronic toys are “UL Approved.”
  • If a hobby or chemistry kit seems like a wise educational gift, the AAP recommends giving these types of toys to children age 12 and older.
  • With tight economic times, parents may opt to purchase gently used items from garage sales, online sources, and secondhand stores. While it may save money, parents should check that the item has not been involved in a recall by visiting the Consumer Product Safety Commission Web.

Finally, the AAP advises parents to store toys in a designated location, such as on a shelf or in a toy chest, and keep older kids’ toys away from young children. If a toy is not in good condition, throw it away.

Tagged As: Children's Health Parenting

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