Tips for avoiding holiday toy hazards

Press Staff Writer

        December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month.
        According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), toy-related injuries sent nearly 200,000 kids to emergency departments in 2020.
        Many of the injuries and deaths were associated with choking on small toys or objects.
        Adam Keating, MD, a pediatrician with Cleveland Clinic Children’s, said it’s critical to give age-appropriate gifts, especially when it comes to kids under age 3.
        “We know kids under 3 have a propensity for putting things in their mouths,” Dr. Keating said. “That’s how they developmentally explore the world. And anything that’s basically smaller than what you can fit through a toilet paper tube roll is a choking hazard.”
        Dr. Keating recommends following age guidelines listed on a toy’s packaging.
        • If you’re buying a toy for an older child, he said it’s important to be aware of any younger siblings in the home who may also have access to the gift.
        • Small balls and toys with small parts, like building sets, are common choking hazards and should be kept away from children younger than 3 years old.
        • Anything powered by a “button battery” should also be avoided for young kids. If swallowed, these round, flat batteries have the potential to burn a hole in a child’s stomach or intestines, which can be a life-threatening medical emergency.
        • And if a bike, scooter or hover board is on your child’s wish list – be sure you pair it with a helmet.
        “What I will often tell kids in my office is that there’s the possibility of falling and hurting any part of you. But, I don’t ask kids to wear a bike suit of armor, I ask them to wear a bike helmet,” said Dr. Keating. “Because the other parts of your body largely are going to heal even if you injure them. Sometimes if you injure your brain, it doesn’t get better.”
        According to the CPSC, it’s also a good practice to check that a toy has not been banned or recalled before buying it.


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