Keep Safety in Mind When Shopping for Toys
They're making lists ... checking them twice ... revising and updating and marking out and adding on. This time of year the number 1 thought on many children's minds is what toys they want for Christmas. Seasonal wish lists are one of the joys of childhood, but one of the responsibilities of adulthood is keeping children's safety in mind, even when shopping for toys.
"Each year, more than 118,000 children ages 14 and under are treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries," reported the National Safe Kids Campaign. Texas AgriLife Extension offers these tips for prospective toy shoppers:
- Check the box or label for the age recommendation. Most toys are designed for children of specific ages. Don't give young children toys that are designed for older children. Also, check to see if adult supervision is required when playing with the toy. Be sure the child is old enough and developmentally advanced enough to play properly with it.
- Think large. Choking hazards are a very real concern when it comes to buying toys. Make sure the toy and/or its pieces are too large for a child to put in his or her mouth and try to swallow.
- Don't buy projectile toys that shoot small objects into the air. Not only are these toys a choking hazard, they can also cause serious eye injury.
- Protect the child's hearing – and your own – by avoiding toys that make loud or shrill noises.
- Check the toy's construction: Is it sturdy? Do plush toys have eyes or noses that can be pulled off and swallowed? Is it washable? Does it have ties or bows that could be a strangulation hazard? Is it made with bean- or pellet-like stuffing that can be a choking or suffocation hazard? Does it have sharp points or edges? Is it made from some easily-breakable material?
- Don't buy metal toys for babies or toddlers.
- Look for art supplies that are labeled non-toxic; avoid any items or materials that could cause poisoning, including items that contain small batteries. Not only are these batteries toxic, but they could be a choking hazard.
- Chemistry or hobby kits should only be given to children who are old enough to appreciate them – about age 12 and older. These kits can be harmful to younger children.
- Only buy electric toys that have been approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) for safety.
- Be extra careful when shopping for crib toys, since those that hang from strings, straps or wires can be serious strangulation hazards.
- If a toy chest is on the list, before purchasing make sure the edges are smooth and finishes are non-toxic. Check for safety hinges that will keep the lid open when needed and prevent it from falling on a child's head. Make sure it has ventilation holes, in case a child crawls inside and shuts the lid. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the best toy chests are lid-less.
Have a safe and happy Christmas! Remember the true Reason behind this grand birthday celebration!
The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself - Oscar Wilde
Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Agent
1200-B W. Houston
P.O. Box 518
Sulphur Springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 - phone
903-439-4909 - fax