LOS ANGELES — The gift buying season is in full swing and it’s important to keep safety in mind when shopping for children’s toys.
“Toys are a fun and important part of a child’s development, but they can also pose some dangers if they are not age-appropriate or used correctly,” said Eleonora Kleyman, MD, a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center. “The best way to ensure toy safety is to read the toy manufacturer labels and supervise children while they play with their toys.”
Dr. Kleyman recommends the following be kept in mind when selecting toys:
Small toys or toys that have small pieces that can break off when a child is playing can be a choking hazard. If an object can fit inside a toilet paper roll, which is roughly the size of a child’s throat, it’s not safe.
Make sure the toy is age-appropriate by reading the labels. Warning labels give important information about how to use a toy and age recommendations. Also keep in mind that curious younger children may try to play with toys designed for older children.
Toys with flashing lights and sounds can be fun and stimulating for a child. But flashing lights can be harmful to a child’s eyesight or could disturb sleep patterns if they remain on when your child is trying to sleep.
Avoid toys that are loud to prevent damage to a child’s hearing. Some rattles, squeak toys, musical or electronic toys can be too loud for children.
Watch out for toys that can cause trips or falls, such as skateboards or scooters. Ensure that the child has the right safety gear — including a properly sized helmet, elbow and knee pads, etc.
Toys with battery cases should be secured with screws so that kids cannot pry them open.
Avoid all toys with small, high-powered magnets or loose magnets. If swallowed, the magnets can pull together with enough force to cause serious or life-threatening damage to a child’s digestive system.
Avoid toys with toxic materials, such as lead and phthalates (fa-thal-ates). Phthalates are a group of chemicals typically used in plastics (a common one you see is BPA). Look for “lead-free” and “nontoxic” messaging on the toy’s label.
For more tips on toy safety, check out this video featuring Dr. Kleyman.
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