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Not All Toys Are Fun And Games

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

It's that magical time of year and parent: Parents are scrambling to find all of the goodies on their children's wish lists.

During the toy search, it's important to keep in mind several tips because toys aren't always fun and games. In 2007, more than 232,900 children ages 14 and under were treated in U.S. emergency rooms for toy-related injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

"Education is the first step to preventing injuries," said Cara Fast, MSW, manager of the Riley Safety Store and child injury prevention programs for Riley Community Education and Child Advocacy. "Parents should know how to read product labels and select safe toys for children of any age. As consumers, we typically hear a greater emphasis on toy safety during the holidays, but it's really an important issue year round."

Riley Hospital for Children reminds parents to consider the following guidelines when shopping for toys.

Read and heed warning labels on toys.

* Look for labels and select toys that are appropriate for a child's age, interest and stage of development.

* Toys that pose a choking hazard to young children are required by law to carry a warning label.

* Toys or toy parts that fit in the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper are too small for young children.

* Avoid giving latex balloons to small children. The balloons may burst and pose a choking hazard.

* Look for product labels to indicate that toys are fire-resistant and non-toxic.

Avoid strangulation hazards.

* Avoid toys with strings or cords that can get wrapped around a child's neck or wrists.

* Remove crib mobiles before baby is five months old or can push up on his hands and knees.

* Avoid using toy boxes with lids that can trap a child.

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Look for other safety hazards.

* Avoid toys made from thin, brittle plastic that can easily break. Choose toys that have smooth, rounded edges rather than sharp edges or corners.

* Select toys that do not produce a lot of noise for a child's sensitive ears.

* Avoid toys with projectile parts that can damage a child's eyes.

* Check battery-operated toys regularly to make sure the batteries have not leaked or burst.

* Teach children of all ages that small magnets or small items that contain magnets should never be placed in their mouth. Carefully supervise children around products containing magnets. Swallowed magnets can potentially require surgery.

Think safety for wheeled toys.

* Children should wear an approved, properly fitted helmet each time they ride bikes, scooters, skateboards, roller blades or other wheeled toys.

* Buy knee pads, elbow pads and wrist guards for safer riding.

* Set an example for children and wear a helmet each time you ride.

Be sure to remove and properly dispose of all toy wrappers and other packaging materials before giving toys to a child.

Perhaps just as important as selecting safe toys for children is adult supervision. Most injuries like choking, the leading cause of toy-related deaths, can be avoided through adult supervision at all times, including play time.

"Adult supervision is one warning label that every toy should include," continued Fast. "Teach children how to safely play with toys. Remind them not to put pieces in their mouths or throw toys at other children."

Remind older children to check with an adult before giving their toys to younger brothers and sisters. Small toy pieces that may pose a choking hazard to young children should be kept out of their reach. And always be sure the check to make sure the toys are in good condition. Look for magnets or any loose parts that are about to fall off or have already detached from the toys.

Besides your child's safety and well-being, Fast points out that supervising during play time provides an opportunity to spend time with children. "Play time is a great way to unwind and spend time together as a family," Fast said.