Five tips for giving safe toys and gifts this season
The holiday season is getting into full swing, and many parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents are trying to find the perfect toys for the children in their lives. Here are some guidelines for adults to keep in mind while shopping to ensure they’re buying safe toys and gifts.
1. Be aware of choking hazards
For younger children, avoid toys that contain small pieces that may become choking hazards. In its toy safety guide, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) points out many children are still prone to putting things in their mouths as a way to explore them. Unfortunately, this can lead to accidental choking and death. Small balls, marbles and even pieces of broken toys can be seriously dangerous. The leading cause of suffocation is from latex balloons — if there are latex balloons at your family’s holiday celebration, pick up all pieces and carefully supervise children so they don’t put any part of the balloons in their mouths. According to the CPSC, strong magnets and button batteries can also cause severe internal damage when swallowed and should therefore be kept away from children.
2. Select an age-appropriate toy
Picking out a toy appropriate for a child’s developmental stage can reduce injuries. The PCSC offers helpful guides that advise buyers which kinds of toys will be safe for which age groups, and which are best for the typical characteristics of each age group, from younger than five or six to twelve.
3. Protect the child’s eyes
According to Prevent Blindness, thousands of children each year suffer eye injuries from unsafe toys, and some of them are even blinded. They recommend avoiding toys that have sharp, rigid edges or that shoot projectiles and buying sturdy toys that won’t break into shards if dropped. You should also discard broken toys, as they can be a hazard to kids.
4. Safeguard the child’s hearing
Some toys that make sounds or play music are too loud for a little one’s ears. According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, some toys can be as loud as 90 decibels, which is the same as a lawnmower. Continuous exposure to high decibels can cause hearing loss over time. If a toy seems loud in the store and doesn’t have a volume-control function, consider placing duct tape over the speaker to protect your child’s hearing. The Sight and Hearing Association publishes an annual list of the loudest toys to avoid as you cross gifts off your shopping list.
5. Give the gift of safety
There’s nothing more exciting for a child than receiving a brand-new bike, scooter or skateboard for the holidays. These gifts are only complete if they include the corresponding safety equipment, especially a helmet, notes Nemours. Elbow pads, knee pads and wrist guards also make great accompaniments for riding toys, further reducing injuries from falls.
Keep these guidelines in mind as you make your holiday purchases and use common sense to pick safe toys and gifts for your loved ones.
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