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.
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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.
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:
Contact with certain products can cause complications for children.
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 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 can cause eye injuries.
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.
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:
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.