With Chanukah in full swing and Christmas exactly two weeks away, you may be doing some last minute shopping for your kids. December is National Safe Toy and Gift Month. We want to remind our patients and friends about the importance of choosing the right toys for your children. We want them to have a safe, and enjoyable holiday free of injury.
In 2014, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimated that hospital emergency rooms across the country treated 251,800 toy-related injuries. Of those, 73 percent of those injuries were to children under the age of 15. In fact, more than 84,400 were to those under 5 years of age.
Because the most commonly injured part of the body is the head and face area, Prevent Blindness America has declared December as Safe Toys and Gifts Month in an effort to help adults make the best decisions on how to keep the holiday season joyful for everyone. The group is offering toy-buying and gift-giving tips to anyone planning to purchase a gift for a child this year.
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.
In addition to being safe, good toys for young children need to match their stages of development and emerging abilities. Many safe and appropriate play materials are free items typically found at home. Cardboard boxes, plastic bowls and lids, collections of plastic bottle caps, and other “treasures” can be used in more than one way by children of different ages. The National Association for the Education of Young Children has created a guide of “Good Toys for Children by Age and Stage.” As you read the following lists of suggested toys for children of different ages, keep in mind that each child develops at an individual pace. Items on one list—as long as they are safe—can be good choices for children who are younger and older than the suggested age range.