During the holiday shopping season, keep these health and safety tips in mind when choosing gifts for your little ones.
Check the box for recommended ages for the toy
Please don’t ignore those numbers. They prevent your child from being exposed to choking hazards, age-inappropriate subjects and other health hazards.
Select toys with social development and fun in mind
Those tried-and-true games and toys that you remember fondly have often been made current. Check them out again with your child in mind. Electronic handheld devices are also favorite gifts that can develop social skills for children older than 2 years of age if monitored.
Consult with your pediatrician about screen time recommendations for your child’s age to ensure balance in your child’s social development. And it’s a good idea to monitor the content that your child is exposed to on these devices.
Don’t forget the batteries
The checkout cashier at the toy store won’t let you leave without hearing this line. Be sure to also remember to place batteries out of children’s reach or secured safely in the toy. Lithium button batteries and small magnetic toys are some of the most common objects children swallow and are especially dangerous to the digestive system if swallowed.
Avoid high-powered magnet toys—even if they are popular
High-powered magnet sets pose serious health risks at all ages. Often sold in sets of 200 or more magnets, these items often are marketed as desk toys and stress relievers for adults who use the magnets to create patterns and build shapes.
From toddlers to teens, children are swallowing these magnets and the consequences are severe, including small holes in the stomach and intestines, intestinal blockage, blood poisoning and even death.
When a magnet has to be removed surgically, it often requires repair of the child’s damaged stomach and intestines. It can be extremely difficult for a parent to tell if any of the tiny magnets is missing from a set.
To mimic body piercings, tweens and teens are placing two or more magnets on opposite sides of their ear lobes, tongue and nose, leading to unintentional inhalation and swallowing of the magnets.
As you are attempting to open that impossible packaging, do a quick check for common-sense hazards such as sharp edges or small pieces that might break off. You can also do an online toy inspection for safety recalls at the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. For more toy and holiday safety tips, visit healthychildren.org.