Christmas is swiftly approaching, which means the window for gift shopping is steadily closing. All the good little girls and boys will be eagerly anticipating what awaits them under the Christmas tree, but have you given any thought to the safety of the toys you’re purchasing?
Think about this: Hospital emergency rooms in the United States treated at least 240,000 toy-related injuries in 2016, the last year statistics from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission were available.
With that in mind, turn your thoughts toward safety as you go shopping for toys. Consider whether the toy you are buying is appropriate for the age, skills and abilities of the individual child who will receive it, especially for children ages 3 and younger.
- Inspect all toys before purchasing. Avoid those that shoot or include parts that fly off. The toy should have no sharp edges or points and should be sturdy enough to withstand impact without breaking, being crushed or being pulled apart easily.
- When purchasing toys for children with special needs, try to choose toys that may appeal to different senses such as sound, movement and texture; consider interactive toys to allow the child to play with others; and think about the size of the toy and the position a child would need to be in to play with it.
- Be diligent about inspecting toys your child has received. Check them for age, skill level and developmental appropriateness before allowing them to be played with.
- Look for labels that assure you the toys have passed a safety inspection – “ATSM” means the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials standards.
- Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (give a helmet with the skateboard).
- Keep kids safe from lead in toys by educating yourself about lead exposure from toys, symptoms of lead poisoning and what kinds of toys have been recalled; being aware that old toys may be more likely to contain lead in the paint; having your children wash their hands frequently and calling your doctor if you suspect your child has been exposed to lead. Read more about lead poisoning .
- Do NOT give toys with small parts (including magnets and “button” batteries which can cause serious injury or death if ingested) to young children as they tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If the piece can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not appropriate for kids under age 3.
- Do NOT give toys with ropes and cords or heating elements.
- Do NOT give crayons and markers unless they are labeled nontoxic.
Nobody wants to spend their holiday in an emergency room – stay safe!