By Dr. Tamisha Jones, Director of Pediatrics
The holiday season is here. Parents and families are looking forward to the joy of bright-eyed children tearing into their toys on Christmas day. However, parents should be aware that toys have some hidden risks, too. In 2016, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 240,000 toy-related injuries requiring emergency room visits.
Here are a few things to keep in mind before purchasing toys for the holidays.
1. Bigger is better, as far as toy parts are concerned. Be mindful that toys with small pieces can be choking hazards for children younger than three years old. To determine if a toy has parts too small for a young child is whether or not it can fit through an empty toilet paper roll. If it can, it’s too small.
2. Beware of toys with strings longer than 6 or 7 inches because they can pose a risk of strangulation. If a string is longer than your hand, it’s too long.
3. Silence the noise. Some musical and electronic toys can be too loud, particularly if held directly to a child’s ear. It can damage your child’s hearing. Earphones carry particular risk for all children including adolescents. Remember that the sweetest sound even the youngest children hear is your voice having regular conversations with them.
4. Beware of toy guns. Shooting toys can cause serious eye injuries. They also usually contain small parts, which brings us back to tip #1.
5. Just say no to lead paint. When choosing toys, make sure that they say non-toxic and do not contain lead-based paints, which are poisonous.
The holidays are a beautiful time to share with our families. Gifts and toys can be a wonderful part of that time. However, remember that time spent together and engaged with our children is the best gift of all, whether or not toys are involved.
To report unsafe toys, call the Consumer Product Safety Commission at (800) 638-CPSC.