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Mom and young son in a toy store looking at a kitchen set

Safe Toy Buying Guide

Choosing gifts for the children on your holiday shopping list can sometimes be tricky. You want to get a gift that’s not only fun, but will also help spark their imagination and build developmental skills. Most importantly, you want a toy that’s safe and age-appropriate.

Toy-related injuries send thousands of children to emergency departments each year. Play it safe this holiday season and keep these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics in mind when shopping for that special little someone in your life.

Choose age-appropriate toys. Choose toys for your child’s age, skill level and interest. Toys that are too advanced can injure younger children.  

Avoid plugs. For children under 10, avoid toys that must be plugged into an electrical outlet.

Read carefully. Read all warning labels and instructions, and show your child how to use the toy properly.

Avoid button batteries and magnets. Be cautious about toys that have button batteries or magnets, which can be harmful or fatal if swallowed.

Inspect toys. If you are buying a gift for a young child, look for toys without small pieces, sharp edges or points. Young children can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Choose well-made stuffed animals. The eyes, nose and other small parts should be securely fastened.

Remove tags, strings and ribbons. Remove tags, strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children. Watch for pull-toy strings that are more than 12 inches long because they could be a strangulation hazard for babies.

Store safely. Parents should keep toys in a designated location, such as a bin or a shelf. If you use a toy box, choose one with no lid or a lightweight, non-locking lid and ventilation holes. Toys for older siblings should be kept separate from young children, who could choke on small pieces.

Trash it. Discard a toy’s packaging immediately. Sharp staples and plastic bags can cause injuries.

Safety gear. Supervise children when playing on ride-on toys. Make sure they fit properly on the toy and are wearing the appropriate safety gear, such as a helmet and knee pads.

Consider checking the CPSC’s website for the latest information about toy recalls. You may also call them at (800) 638-CPSC to report a toy you think is unsafe.

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About Shannon Hood, CCLS

About Shannon  Hood, CCLS Shannon Hood has worked for CHKD for 15 years and serves as manager of CHKD’s child life program. She is a certified child life specialist as well as a certified therapeutic recreation specialist with her primary focus devoted to CHKD’s neonatal intensive care unit and CHKD’s rehabilitation program.