(RxWiki News) On the first day of Christmas, my mommy gave to me … three non-choking-hazard toys, two BPA-free figures and a stuffed animal without removable parts. How safe are the toys under your tree this year?
There isn’t much time left to stock up on all the gifts that will be in stockings and under the tree Christmas morning — not to mention what Santa might bring, too. But it’s also not too late to make sure all those new toys are safe for kids.
Whether it’s making sure a particular gift is age-appropriate for a child or making sure it’s made of high-quality materials, parents and other gift-givers want to be sure their presents will be a source of joy and not a danger to a child.
In 2017 alone, an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries had to be treated in emergency departments in the United States, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
The CPSC recommends that gift-givers take into consideration a child’s age and interests but also their skill level, which varies from one child to the next. Also be sure that the directions for any toys are clear to you and even your child — and follow those directions.
Be sure to read the labels. Most toys will provide an appropriate age range and will note if the toy contains small parts that may be a choking hazard. Noting that clothes, stuffed animals and dolls are “flame retardant/resistant” and/or “washable” or made from “hygienic materials” will help you choose safer products, too.
On the day kids open gifts, make sure all packaging and plastic wrapping is immediately discarded so it doesn’t become a choking or suffocation hazard.
Sometimes, it’s not just the size of the toy or its parts that makes it inappropriate for a child. Often, for the youngest children, the key is keeping toys simple.
Furthermore, check all toys periodically for potential hazards, such as breakage, splinters and sharp edges. Any toys that become damaged or dangerous over time need be repaired or tossed in the trash immediately.
Below are some specific hazards to look for in new toys.
Sharp Edges and Points: Pick a toy free of sharp glass or metal edges, especially for kids younger than 8. Broken toys can also expose sharp edges or dangerous points or prongs. Also watch for wires inside broken toys that can cut or stab children.
Small Parts: No toys intended for children under the age of 3 can legally have small parts, including removable eyes and noses on stuffed animals and dolls, as well as small removable squeakers on squeeze toys.
Loud Noises: Cap guns and other noisemakers might seem fun to little ones, but kids are susceptible to hearing damage from toys that are too loud. Use noise-making toy guns outdoors, and never fire too close to the ear.
Cords and Strings: Any kind of long string or cord can become a strangulation hazard for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Never hang toys with these features in cribs or playpens. Make sure crib gyms are also taken out of cribs when a child can pull up to a crawling or standing position.
Flying Objects: What child doesn’t love throwing things? As long as it’s light or soft, this isn’t a big deal, but children should not have access to sporting equipment like darts or arrows with sharp points that can be dangerous. Safer versions of arrows and darts will have suction cups, soft cork tips or other protective tips. Also avoid purchasing toys like dart guns. A creative child might shoot something that isn’t meant to be used with the toy, such as nails or pens.
Electric Toys: The CPSC requires electrical toys, such as toy trains, not to exceed certain maximum temperatures and to have warning labels, as well as secure electrical construction. These toys are to be played with only with adult supervision. These toys are recommended in children over the age of 8.
Baby Toys: The biggest hazard for the littlest children is choking. Make sure any rattles, squeeze toys, teethers, or other toys are big enough that they cannot enter or become stuck in a child’s throat. Furthermore, ensure that they do not contain any pieces that could break off and become a choking hazard.
Of course, some of the best gifts parents can give their children are the ones that involve interaction between the parent and their children and that engage children’s minds.
Speak with your health care provider if you have any questions about toy safety this holiday season.