Visions of sugarplums often means visions of the Most Amazing Toys for children during the holidays. As the Grinch says, “Pop guns! And bicycles! Roller skates! Drums! Checkerboards! Tricycles! Popcorn! And plums…”
Some of these are more likely to lead to injury than others, so December has been declared Safe Toys and Gifts Awareness Month. Emergency rooms report thousands of patients who wind up getting hurt by toys. So as you select the magical objects of childhood fun, take care to make sure they are as safe and age appropriate!
Here are some guidelines for choosing safe toys this season:
- Inspect all toys before purchasing. The toy should have no sharp edges or points and should be sturdy enough to withstand impact without breaking, being crushed, or being pulled apart easily.
- When purchasing toys for children with special needs try to choose toys that may appeal to different senses such as sound, movement, and texture; consider interactive toys to allow the child to play with others; and think how a kid would actually play with it, especially with physical limitations.
- Look for labels that guarantee the toys have passed a safety inspection – “ATSM” means the toy has met the American Society for Testing and Materials standards.
- Sports equipment be given with the necessary protective gear (give a helmet with the skateboard, for instance).
- Educate yourself about lead exposure from toys, including the symptoms of lead poisoning and what toys have been recalled; being aware that old toys may be more likely to contain lead in the paint; having your children wash their hands frequently and calling your doctor if you suspect your child has been exposed to lead.
- Do NOT give toys with small parts (including magnets and “button” batteries which can cause serious injury or death if ingested) to very young children. For instance, if the piece can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is a choking hazard for kids under three.