What every parent should know about toy safety this holiday season
Dr. Stan Spinner, chief medical officer of Texas Children’s Pediatrics
Before you hit the local toy shops this holiday season, take into account how certain toys may affect your child’s safety.
While the holidays are always a time to enjoy with family and friends, the season may also bring a host of injuries. Our Texas Children’s Pediatrics practices see a variety of injuries after presents have been unwrapped and holiday celebrations come to an end. The most common we see are from toys that children ride on, such as foot-powered scooters. Riding on bicycles and tricycles without a helmet is very dangerous and can easily cause serious injuries as well.
Toys with small parts that can detach or break off pose a choking hazard and are most risky for infants and young children. Choking is the most common form of toy-related injuries in children during the first 3 years of age. Additionally, a toy may look safe for a child, but there could actually be hidden dangers. Small, detachable parts, toxins in materials and sharp edges can pose a threat. Defective toys often cause significant safety risks too, so it’s important to check for recalls.
I always advise patient families not to buy anything for a child whose age is less than what is recommended for that particular toy. Babies put everything in their mouths, so parents should consider any toy that has materials not recommended for human consumption as off limits. Unfortunately, we have seen toxicity issues with several painted toys that have been found to be laced with lead in the paint.
Older children are not immune to safety risks during the holidays either. Because of their age, they are often gifted with riding toys. Projectile injuries are also quite common in the older age groups as they play with their new gadgets with friends and family members.
It’s important for parents to always observe infants and children, no matter their age, while they enjoy their new toys. Look for evidence of wear and tear that may indicate greater potential for pieces of that toy to break off and pose a choking hazard. Be aware of the environment where the child will be playing to try and prevent accidents from occurring as much as possible. Most of all, think about the toy you are buying and consider the risks it could create for your child.