Shopping for toys this holiday? Put safety on the top of your list


Toy safety | Texas Children's Hospital
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Thanksgiving week is here with lots of food and family time but also with the prospect of shopping for toys during Black Friday sales. Truth is, it's really time to get ready for the holidays and maybe crossing off some items off your holiday shopping list. I am well aware of the parental desire to buy gifts that will inspire envy across the neighborhood ... but I want to make a plea today — for parents to think about safety first when buying toys this year.

There are a number of concerns surrounding toys and children, and there's no time like the holidays to review some of the risks.

First of all, small toy parts present choking hazards to young children. Toddlers are exploring the world and everything looks new and interesting ... and worthy of putting in one's mouth. I know, a teeny piece of a building kit may not look appetizing to you, but to a toddler, those brightly-colored tiny bits can be enthralling. In fact, the vast majority of choking injuries occur in children between 1 and 3 years old. These accidents are so common that toy manufacturers now put age guidelines on the boxes. Don't ignore these warnings!

Here’s a tip: You can tell if the parts are too small for your child by using an empty roll of toilet paper. If a toy part is small enough to slide through the cardboard roll, then it's too small to be safe for kids younger than 3. 

Are balloons part of your holiday celebrations? Make sure to clean up ALL the pieces of a popped balloon properly. Balloon pieces are another common choking hazard most parents are not aware of. Keep your home safe by picking up any pieces of leftover balloons and keep a close eye on your toddler at family outings where balloons are present. 

The next seasonal hazard are the button batteries needed to operate many toys and small gadgets. These batteries look like candy, but shinier. If a child gets a button battery stuck in their nose, ear or throat, the battery may leak its highly alkaline fluid and very serious injuries may occur. Please keep all of these batteries out of the reach of small children.

My last word is about those screechy toys kids adore so much. In my experience, only relatives with no children ever buy these toys since parents know they will drive everybody nuts within an hour or two. But IF your child does receive such a toy, like a police car with a high-pitched siren or a stuffed animal who sounds like a nervous breakdown when you pull the string, please know beyond just being downright annoying, these toys can produce permanent hearing loss in your child. If your child receives one of these acoustic offenders, feel free to graciously thank the doting auntie and then immediately hide the toy at the top of a closet never to be heard from again!

Being careful with the toys you select for your child this year, and the ones your child receives, will help assure this will be a very happy holiday season.