Holiday Toy Safety Tips
Tis’ the season for giving, but for too many children, what they receive during the holidays can be harmful. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were an estimated 251,700 toy-related ER visits in 2017 in children under 15 years old. Dr. Meg Marino, Pediatric Emergency Physician with Ochsner Hospital for Children, shares tips for keeping your kids safe this holiday season.
Are there certain types of toys you should avoid, especially for young children?
- Parents need to be on guard for potential toy hazards, especially around this time of year.
- Toys with lots of pieces and parts can potentially become choking hazards, especially for young children.
- A parent can turn their back for a split second and that child can swallow a small piece and choke.
- A good rule of thumb is if a small toy or parts of toys that break off can fit entirely into a toilet paper tube, then it is a potential choking hazard.
- Balloons or toys that have string, ribbon or straps longer than seven inches that could cause strangulation.
- Keep magnetic toys and “button” batteries away from young children. The acid can cause fatal internal injuries. If a child swallows a battery or a magnet, seek immediate medical attention.
What are some things to consider when deciding if a toy is safe for your child?
- Be sure the appropriate safety equipment is provided, such as helmets for bikes. If it isn’t make sure to purchase the appropriate safety equipment needed before allowing your child to play with the toy.
- Read the recommended age label on packaging.
- Open the box and inspect the toy before letting your child play with it.
Are there any concerns about what a toy is made of? How do you check what a toy is made of?
- Certain types of chemicals such as phthalates, lead or heavy metal which can affect organ and system in the human body, especially the central nervous system.
- Read the labels of play cosmetics and avoid products with xylene, toluene or phthalates.
Do you have any recommendations for families with multiple children?
- There can be large age gaps in families, so what is bought for an older child can be extremely harmful to a younger sibling.
- Parents with multiple children of all ages should make sure toys for older children are not easily accessible to the younger children.
- Keeping an eye on the younger children and making sure toys are separated is the best way to keep everyone safe during the holiday.
Electronic toys are very popular, but how much screen time is too much?
- Outside of video chatting, screen time is not recommended for children under two.
- For those over two years of age, we recommend no more than an hour a day.
- Remember – this is a great time to ask friends and family to give "screen free" gifts.
- If you are looking developmentally / age appropriate toys for your kids, check out Ochsner’s blog To Your Health for some great ideas.