A trip to the toy aisle of any store can be daunting, especially if you don’t have kids of your own. If you’ll be purchasing gifts for children this year, there are ways you can ensure you make safe, age-appropriate choices. Erika Janes, R.N., coordinator of Safe Kids Louisville, a program led by the Children’s Hospital Foundation Office of Child Advocacy of Norton Children’s Hospital, offers these seven tips:
-Above all, read and follow age ranges on toy labels. Toys that are too advanced may pose safety hazards for children who are younger than the ages noted on the box. They may also be boring or frustrating for a child who hasn’t yet developed the needed skills
-Stay away from small parts. If the toy or a removable part of it fits through the hole in a toilet paper roll, Janes doesn’t recommend it for children younger than age 5. Small children put a lot of things in their mouths, and puzzle parts, doll shoes, blocks and other small pieces can turn a toy into a choking hazard.
-For homes with young children, avoid electronic toys (and holiday decorations) that use “button” batteries. The small disk-shaped batteries are dangerous if swallowed because they can erode the lining of the intestine, often without any initial symptoms. If you think your child has swallowed one of these batteries, make an immediate trip to the emergency room for evaluation.
-Make sure stuffed animals purchased for younger children don’t have plastic eyes and noses that can be chewed off or fall off and be swallowed.
-Don’t buy toys, such as bikes, for kids to grow into. They can be unsafe for the child’s current age.
-If you are buying a rideable toy, make sure a helmet is part of the gift. The helmet should fit correctly and the child should know how to use it.
-The toys of yesterday are still fun today. Active toys, such as Twister or hopscotch, get kids moving; and arts and crafts supplies help develop creative thinking skills.
-Janes also cautions parents to keep an older child’s toys away from younger children. A 6-year-old’s toy with small pieces should be kept out of the hands of a 3-year-old.