By Heath Nettles
Toyland – a childhood’s joy land, but all may not be happy while you dwell within it.
Each year, toy-related injuries account for more than 251,000 emergency department visits. And we know that the hospital is among the last places you and your little ones want to find yourselves any time – but especially during the holidays.
Safety should be at the top of your holiday shopping list
Before purchasing any toy, keep safety top of mind for your children’s wish list (and check it twice!). Here’s what you need to know to keep your little ones safe this holiday season (and beyond).
- Age recommendations and warning labels. When looking for the perfect gift, be mindful of your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game. Carefully read warning labels and follow the instructions to ensure the gift is just right for your little one.
- Know what’s in the toys you buy. Before you checkout, check to be certain there are no small parts or choking hazards, particularly for children age 3 years or younger.
- Can’t have one without the other. Are hoverboards, bicycles, skateboards and scooters on your shopping list? If so, don’t forget an appropriately fitting helmet.
- Battery toys. Keep an eye out for small pieces – this includes batteries that may be in electronic toys. If an electronic toy is for a small child, check to see that the battery compartment is secured with screws.
- Size. If you’re shopping for infants or toddlers, consider toys that are too large to be swallowed or inserted into mouths. (You never know what little ones can get themselves into!)
- Check to be certain toys with fabric are labeled “flame resistant.”
- Health hazards. If you’re looking for art supplies, ensure that the materials are nontoxic. Stuffed animals should be washable. Any paint on toys should be free of lead.
Storing and disposing of toys properly
Once there’s a full scene of toyland in your home, it’s important to keep toys safe, secure and disposed of properly when it’s time.
- Repair or recycle. It’s a sad day when toys break but to keep your little ones safe, either repair them or throw them away. With that in mind, be certain to regularly check toys to ensure they aren’t broken, cracked, ripped, rusted or splintered.
- Ensure every toy has a home. Teach kids the habit of putting away toys once they’re done playing – this is true for indoor and outdoor toys. Nothing is more painful than stepping on a Lego barefooted, even as an adult.
- Supervise children at play. Play with your child to show how toys work and where they go when they’re done playing – help them play safely and have fun (playmates are more fun, plus toys are for adults, too!).
With these tips in mind – happy and safe holiday shopping and toy playing! And if you’re venturing out to packed malls or stores, take care of your personal safety, too. Be well!