Choose Toys with Safety in Mind This Holiday Season 
Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital 
Monday, 08 December 2008 

  Pediatrician at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital Offers Tips

about Selecting the Right Toy for the Special Child in Your Life

You are wearing comfortable shoes, you have credit cards or cash for purchases, you know where you want to shop, and who you need to buy presents for. You are ready to hit the mall and shop til you drop. But if there are any children’s names on your holiday shopping list, do you know which toys are best for them? Ambreen Aslam, pediatrician on the medical staff at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital offers some tips to help select toys with safety in mind.

“Toys can provide hours of enjoyment and help a child’s development,” says Dr. Aslam. “But if used improperly or without adequate adult supervision, they can cause injury or even death. That’s why it is important to select toys that are age appropriate and follow some general safety guidelines.”

·                     Age recommendations listed on toys are based on safety guidelines, not intelligence level or degree of maturity. For infants, toddlers and preschoolers, look for toys that do not have any small parts that might cause a choking hazard, such as marbles or balls that are 1.75 inches (4.4 centimeters) or less in diameter.

·                     Select toys that are durable and have tightly secured parts that can withstand pulling and twisting. 

·                     Stay away from toys that have sharp edges or points, and toys made of brittle plastic that could break easily. 

·                     Avoid toys with long strings or cords that could pose a strangulation risk. 

·                     If you are buying a bicycle, inline skates, scooter or skateboard for an older child, make sure they are used with a helmet or other safety gear, such as hand, wrist or shin guards. 

·                     Projectile toys, such as darts or arrows, should have soft tips or suction cups on the ends to avoid eye injuries. Toy guns should be brightly colored with a red tip so they don’t look like real guns. BB or pellet guns are not recommended for children under the age of 16. 

·                     Select art materials that are nontoxic. Crayons and paints should have the designation “ASTM D-4236” on the package, signifying they have been approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

“Parents also should check labels to see where toys are manufactured because of recent issues concerning lead paint and hazards being associated with toys made outside the United States,” advises Dr. Aslam. “And try to avoid older, hand-me-down toys, even if they have sentimental value. These toys may not meet current safety guidelines or have worn-out parts that could break off and become dangerous. Your best bet is a toy made after 1995 that complies with U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission standards, and meets guidelines and labeling for particular age groups.”