December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month!
Miami Children’s Hospital has a great public service video with toy safety tips.
My local pediatric hospital, Seattle Children’s, has a webpage devoted to toy safety and safety tips, including how to choose age-appropriate gifts, how to recognize potential dangers, and how to keep toys in good condition to keep them safe.
They also offer links to toy and gift suggestions for different age groups.
The sponsor of Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Prevent Blindness, has this toy safety list on its website:
Before purchasing a toy or gift, Prevent Blindness suggests:
- Avoid toys that shoot or include parts that fly off.
- Ask yourself or the parent if the toy is right for the child’s ability and age. Consider whether other smaller children may be in the home that may have access to the toy.
- Avoid purchasing toys with sharp or rigid points, spikes, rods, or dangerous edges.
- Buy toys that will withstand impact and not break into dangerous shards.
- Look for the letters “ASTM.” This designation means the product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
- Gifts of sports equipment should always be accompanied by protective gear (such as a basketball along with eye goggles).
- Don’t give toys with small parts to young children. Young kids tend to put things in their mouths, increasing the risk of choking. If any part of a toy can fit in a toilet paper roll, the toy is not appropriate for children under the age of 3.
- Do not purchase toys with long strings or cords, especially for infants and very young children as these can become wrapped around a child’s neck.
- Always dispose of uninflated or broken balloons immediately.
- Read all warnings and instructions on the box.
- Always supervise children and demonstrate to them how to use their toys safely.
The list doesn’t mention magnets, which can be surprisingly dangerous to children. Magnets can be a choking hazard, of course, but if more than one magnet is swallowed, they can come together in a child’s intestines and cause a life-threatening blockage.
High-powered magnets are the biggest problem, and are not sold as children’s toys. But they are components of several popular adult novelty gifts. Consumer and kids’ safety groups tried to get the extremely strong and attractive-to-kids magnetic device Buckyballs banned, but a court recently reversed that ban and they are on the market again just in time for the gift-giving season. Keep these types of items well out of the reach of small children!
For information about recalled toys, or to report a toy you think is unsafe, contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Happy and safe holidays!