When it comes to purchasing toys and games for the Holiday season, well meaning parents and relatives go crazy when it comes to buying “cute” or “hot” items for their kids. With all of the excitement surrounding the holidays, many disregard basic safety guidelines in age appropriate gifts for infants and toddlers.
1. Buy age-appropriate toys by reading the labels. Each toy or game will have a suggested age range listed on the item. This label contains two pieces of safety information. One is if the item can and should be utilized by a specific age due to developmental and intellectual ability, and the other is for possible health hazards.
2. Beware of choking hazards. Parents think that their child should be able to play with a toy based on their developmental ability. However, if the toy or game clearly displays a choking hazard label, and your child puts everything in their mouth, do not buy it. Choking is the most common cause of toy-related deaths. Avoid toys or games with small detachable parts.
3. Get an up-close look. Take the toy or game out of the box. Look for safe construction: well-sewn seams on dolls and stuffed animals, and tightly secured parts, including eyes, arms and legs. Be sure that nothing can be broken off or easily removed, including small clothing pieces and accessories. Close your eyes and touch all of the edges to be sure that they are not sharp or pointed.
4. Avoid balls and balloons. Many times, balls and balloons are given to babies and toddlers thinking that they will be safe toys when in fact they can pop or get caught in the throat. As a test, put small balls through a paper towel roll. If it can fit inside, keep it away from babies and small children. Pieces of popped balloons can completely block the airway and are never safe for children younger than four.
5. Avoid toys with loud noises. Children’s ears are very sensitive. If it hurts your ears, then you can bet it will harm a baby or toddler.
6. Prevent strangulation. If a toy, doll or mobile has strings or ribbons, measure them to be sure that they are no longer than five inches.
7. Skip electronic toys for young children. For children younger than age three, there is always a potential fire or shock hazard in electronic toys. Due to the lack of coordination in the manual dexterity of the fine motor skills in the fingertips of young children, they have very little patience for learning how an electronic toy works. Frustration can lead to throwing or banging on the toy, which could result in harmful splintered pieces or an electric shock.
8. Remove cords, knobs and beads from pull toys. Younger kids will sit and push or hold a "pull" toy just as often as trying to pull it. While they are popular toys based on the thought that the interaction might possibility motivate soon-to-be walkers to actually get up and walk, kids are just as happy to hold a colorful item and push it around.
9. Check for latex rashes. Be sure your child is not allergic to toys made of plastic or latex. If you see a rash appear around the mouth, hands or eyes after your child plays with a certain toy, ask your pediatrician about the possibility of your child being allergic. In some children, it can lead to breathing difficulties.
10. Check for toy recalls. Check for toy recalls on a regular basis to be sure that your kids’ toys are safe.
Keep the Holidays simple, fun and safe by following these guidelines. Share them with family and friends for a wonderful season.
© 2005 Jodie Lynn
About the Author:
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent (parenttoparent.com) has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including eDiets.com, MommiesMagazine.com, ParentingBookmark.com, and is the Residential Mom Expert for BabyUniverse.com. Lynn has written two books and contributed to two others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest best-selling parenting/family book is Mommy-CEO, revised edition. Preorder Lynn's new book, "Mom CEO: Avoiding the Distressed Housewife Syndrome and Winning at Motherhood," online or from any bookstore in mid 2006. See www.ParentToParent.com for more details.