With the holiday season fast approaching (I know, how did it become December already??), you might have started doing some early toy shopping for the little ones in your life. Given the season, it’s no surprise that December is Young Children’s Safe Toys & Gifts Awareness Month. Prevent Blindness America declared the day and urges parents and consumers to be conscientious when purchasing gifts for young children. A few tips when choosing toys:
- Choose age appropriate toys with care. Make sure gifts are suited to the developmental and skill level of the child. And, when buying for kids that aren’t your own, keep in mind the other siblings in the house. Now that I have 2 boys – a responsible 3 year old a rascaly 1 year old, I often find that the baby wants to play with his older brother’s toys. You may intend a toy for an older sibling, but be mindful that it may end up in the hands of a younger sibling.
- Discard all plastic wrapping, twist ties, etc immediately. I never used to understand this photo below before I had children.
“Of course a bag is not a toy,” I used to think. And then I had my first son, and I quickly discovered how much little children love plastic bags – it’s crazy.
- Buy quality toys with sturdy construction that don’t easily fall apart. When my eldest son was just born, I hate to admit that I was one of those snobs that only wanted beautiful wooden toys for my children. No plastic toys for my kids. Now, I’m a little less strict and though I still appreciate the beauty of a hand-made toy, sometimes my son just wants a Captain America figurine. But, you should still check to make sure that the toy has passed safety standards. There should be a sticker: labeled, American Society for Testing and Materials standards.
- Read the labels. I’m not usually a direction reader, but I do read the labels and adhere to the recommendations for the age of the child who should be playing with the toy.
- Avoid toys with cords and strings for young infants since they pose a strangulation hazard.
- Avoid projectile toys. I’m always reminded of the scene from “A Christmas Story” –“You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” As a pediatric ophthalmologist, this one is near and dear to my heart.
Obviously, the last place you want to be on Christmas morning is in the Emergency room for an eye injury. There are many types of projectile toys and most of them are fun. If you are purchasing one, you want to make sure that the child is old enough to responsibly play with the toy and that adult supervision is present.
- Avoid the following:
- Toys with small parts and sharp edges and points.
- Crayons and markers that are not labeled nontoxic.
- Toys that could shatter into fragments if broken.
- Electric toys with heating elements.