What Parents and Gift Givers Should Know Before Buying a Toy for the Children in Their Lives

Author: Roula Sabbagh, M.D., Pediatrics, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – Katy

Toys and tots make the holidays festive and fun. Each year, however, thousands of children are injured by toys. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself the following five questions when buying a toy for a child in your life.

If the answer is “yes” to any of the checklist questions, the toy may be an inappropriate choice.

Safe-Toy Checklist

  • Does the toy have any sharp edges that could cut a child?
  • Is the toy made of thin plastic that might splinter or break into sharp pieces?
  • Is the toy poorly made?
  • Does it have small pieces a child might swallow and choke on?
  • Is it a projectile or “throwing” toy with sharp points or spikes?

Almost all toy-related injuries and deaths involve children younger than 5. Children 3 and younger have the greatest risk of choking because they tend to put objects, especially toys, in their mouths.

Other Toy Safety Tips

In addition to the toy checklist, there are important safety tips to keep in mind when shopping for young children. Most importantly, pay special attention to the age recommended for the toy, as indicated on the packaging.

When buying arts-and-crafts gifts for children ages 3 to 12, look for products marked with the ASTM-D4236 designation. This code indicates that the product has been reviewed by a toxicologist expert on poisonous substances and any known health hazards will be identified and stated on the label. However, the designation does not mean the product is non-toxic.

Recently, mobile toys like electronic scooters and hover boards have gained popularity. While these gifts are exciting, they also pose a danger to children who may not be old enough — or have the coordination — to ride. Older children who do receive a gift like this should wear proper safety gear, which includes a well-fitting helmet, and be under the supervision of a trusted adult.