Dear Santa, we’d like to add a postscript to all the Christmas lists you receive this holiday season from children both naughty and nice: Please make sure all the toys you deliver are safe for every boy and girl.
When checking their lists, and after checking them twice, consider whether the requested toys are age-appropriate and safe. The following five tips from Sharp Rees-Stealy pediatrician Dr. Teresa O’Dea will help:
5 holiday toy safety tips
- Avoid giving small children jewelry beading kits, marbles or toys that include other small round pieces. Pediatricians have unfortunately become familiar with having to pull these objects out of ear canals and noses, and they all pose a serious choking hazard.
- Never give a small child tiny ball-shaped magnets used in toy building sets. If a child swallows one, it can be a choking hazard. If they swallow more than one, the magnets can find each other in the intestinal tract and catch the bowel between them, causing a painful and potentially dangerous bowel obstruction.
- Children under 3 should not receive electronic toys with small disc-shaped batteries. If a disc battery is swallowed, it can become stuck in the esophagus and corrode within two hours. This can lead to esophagus rupture and even death. To avoid potential burns and electric shocks, children under 10 should not receive toys that need to be plugged into an electrical outlet.
- Check all toys for small parts and be careful that toys given to older children do not pose a choking or other risk to younger siblings. Remove strings or ropes longer than 12 inches from toys, which can be a strangulation hazard for the little ones.
- Always follow a toy’s age guidelines and read assembly instructions carefully. Toys should be properly constructed, without any loose pieces. All packaging and tools used for assembly should be removed from a child’s reach.
Finally, dear Santa, please remind parents to check online for recalls of any toys they have concerns about. They should also share any questions about toy safety with their pediatrician.