Holiday Season Toy Safety

Did you know that injury is the leading cause of death for children in New York State? While preventable injury is not the most cheerful holiday subject, toy safety is an important consideration when thinking about children’s gifts.

Here are some important tips on toy safety from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
  • Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully.
  • To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, do not give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
  • Young children can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Children can have serious stomach and intestinal problems – including death – after swallowing button batteries or magnets. In addition to toys, button batteries are often found in musical greeting cards, remote controls, hearing aids, and other small electronics. Small, powerful magnets are present in many homes as part of building toy sets. Keep button batteries and magnets away from young children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows one.
  • Children can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons; do not allow children under age 8 to play with them.
  • Remove tags, strings, and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
  • Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
  • Parents should store toys in a designated location, such as on a shelf or in a toy box, and keep older kids’ toys away from young children. Use a toy box with no lid or a lightweight, non-locking lid and ventilation holes.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission maintains a Recall Listing where you can search by keyword, specific hazard, or specific manufacturer. This is tool can help you ensure a product you have received or are considering purchasing is safe.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also has a great article about Holiday Safety Tips and Mental Health Tips which covers everything from food safety to holiday visiting to trees, lights, and decorations.  These tips can help keep everyone in the whole family happy and healthy this holiday season.

Of course, as a librarian, I recommend purchasing great age appropriate books for everyone on your shopping list. Need a suggestion on what to buy? Librarians are knowledgeable about current trends in books, are trained to match readers with books, and love talking about books.  Ask a librarian!

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