Holiday Gift Tips: What You Need to Know About Toy Safety

Kid girl playing toys at home or kindergarten

In my house, holiday time means family, closeness, traditions, good food, and TONS of new toys! While these gifts are fun and exciting for children (and grown-ups!), it’s important to choose toys that are safe and developmentally appropriate. Read on for important tips for choosing the best—and safest—kids’ toys.

Avoid toys with small parts. Young children explore the world through their mouths—you’ve probably noticed that your baby almost immediately puts a new object in her mouth. While this is a normal part of child development, it’s important to ensure that any toys you bring into your home do not pose choking risks for your children. If you have older children, any of their toys with small parts should be placed in a storage bag and clearly labeled. Only allow your child to play with these toys when your little one isn’t around, and place all contents back in the bag and on a high shelf afterward he or she is done playing.

Avoid toys with long strings or cords. Children can accidentally wrap these around their necks, which can cause strangulation. Keep this in mind with mobiles in your child’s crib. Once your child has started to grab for things it is best to remove the mobile.

Buy toys in the United States. The U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors all toys made in the United States and ensures that they follow strict safety guidelines. All toys made in the United States or imported in after 1995 must comply with these standards.

Avoid toys with small magnets. Magnets used in children’s toys can be very powerful and extremely dangerous if swallowed. If two magnets are swallowed it can lead to intestinal obstruction, injury, and perforation.

Choose age-appropriate toys. Most toys will be labeled with the age that the toy is appropriate for. Follow these guidelines and be realistic about your child’s abilities. Ask family members to choose gifts that are within the age guidelines for your child.

Avoid button batteries. Avoid all toys that are controlled by lithium button battery devices. Ingestion of these batteries is very dangerous, as they can cause severe esophageal burns in as little as two hours. If you suspect your child has ingested a button battery, go to the emergency room immediately.

Don’t forget a helmet for riding toys. Scooters and bicycles can make great holiday presents, but it’s important that your child wears a helmet at ALL times when using them.

Sign up for toy recalls. You can sign up for toy recalls at Safe Kids Worldwide. This way you’ll know if your child’s favorite toy ends up on the recall list.

While toys should be fun, child safety is the number one priority. Play with your child and encourage creativity by using age-appropriate and safe toys. Enjoy this time with your child, and happy holidays!

NYULMC-2011_2CP_RGB_300dpiFrom the Real Experts at NYU Langone Medical Center:

Deena N. Blanchard, MD, MPH, is a clinical instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center and a partner at Premier Pediatrics.

Author: NYU Langone Medical Center

At the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York at NYU Langone, we understand that caring for infants, children, and teenagers is a special privilege. That’s why we partner with our young patients and their families to offer comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services and expertise. Our experts provide the best care possible for children with conditions ranging from minor illnesses to complex, more serious illnesses.