Top tips for safe toys this holiday season
What's a great gift for a child? If your first thought was a toy, you're not alone. Toys are fun—and traditional—holiday gifts for kids of all ages. Even our furry "kids" get toys from the people who love them.
The ideal toy for a child is one that brings happiness. And that means the perfect plaything should also be safe.
In 2011 alone, more than 188,000 U.S. children were treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. That's why, whether you're shopping online or standing in one, it's crucial to make safety a priority.
Your toy safety checklist
Before you settle on a plaything, ask yourself:
Is it age-appropriate? Read the toy's warning label. Toys above a child's age range may pose a safety risk.
Are there choking hazards? Toys with small parts can be dangerous for babies, toddlers and curious older kids who put toys in their mouths. If these kids are on your gift list, skip marbles, small pieces and toys with removable parts.
If it's a stuffed toy, is it well-made? Be sure all parts (such as eyes) are on tight. Skip toys stuffed with small, bean-like pellets, which babies and tots might choke on. Do you see any loose strings or ribbons? Take them off.
If it's made out of plastic, is it sturdy? If not, a toy may break easily. And sharp edges can cause a nasty cut.
Does the label say "non-toxic"? Otherwise, toys might contain materials that could cause poisoning.
Does it make loud noises? Noisy toys can harm hearing. If you can, listen to a toy before you buy it. If it's too loud for you, it's too loud for kids.
Safe toys for kids of all ages
Keeping this checklist in mind, here are great toy ideas for:
- Soft, washable stuffed animals; rattles larger than a baby's mouth; unbreakable mirrors; stacking rings; and squeeze toys, especially ones that make gentle noises.
- Push-pull toys, puzzles with only a few pieces, sturdy building blocks, shape sorters and simple musical instruments (such as tambourines).
- Preschoolers and grade schoolers. Non-toxic art supplies and craft kits, bikes and other riding toys with helmets, construction toys, board games, and role-play toys (such as doctor's kits).
- Teens. Chemistry sets, model and magic kits, strategy games (such as chess), three-dimensional puzzles and sports equipment with protective gear.
Safe toys for pets
And finally, if some of the toys on your list are for a beloved pet, here are tips for:
- You can't go wrong with balls. Choose one that's too large to fit all the way inside your dog's mouth. Or pick hard rubber toys. They can keep your dog happily chewing on something besides the shoes you left out.
- Catnip is safe, so go ahead and spoil kitty with toys stuffed with it. But remove any tinsel or other small decorations your cat might chew off. Play it safe!
Spice up your holidays with good health
With all the gift-giving, party-planning and hall-decorating on your holiday to-do list, you might feel more than a little worried or stressed. Try incorporating some soothing rituals into your holiday traditions. Here are some tips you can use to start some healthy holiday traditions.