Now that the holiday shopping season is in full swing, it is important that residents remember that the gifts they are buying for children should be age-appropriate, well constructed and safe.
Safety is a consideration when purchasing toys and other gifts for young children, a fact people often forget. Every year more than 150,000 children are injured in toy-related accidents. This is a tragedy that can be avoided if shoppers pay attention to safety when buying gifts for youngsters.
Warnings and guidelines printed on packages and instruction sheets of toys should be followed carefully. Consider a child's age, interests and abilities when buying for children. Most toys have an appropriate age range listed. These guidelines are established for a purpose. A toy that may be safe and enjoyable for an older child may be unsuitable and potentially dangerous for a younger one. Toy-related injuries most often occur when an infant or toddler chokes on a toy intended for an older child.
When shopping for young children, do not purchase toys that are small enough to be swallowed. Also be cautious about buying toys that have sharp edges or a finish that may be toxic.
Toys should never be hung or attached to a crib, playpen, infant seat or around a child's neck with elastic, string or ribbon. Mobiles and crib gyms should not be used for babies who are 5 months old or if they are able to push up on their hands and knees.
Items that may be considered dangerous for children up to 2 years old include: rattles with ends smaller than 13" /8" in diameter; toys that are sharp or could be swallowed; toys with cords over 12" long or toxic paint; stuffed animals with glass or button eyes or other similar items that can be pulled off. Children who are 2-3 years old should not be given toys that have sharp edges or are made of easily breakable material; toys with small, removable parts or poisonous paints; marbles, beads and coins; electrical toys; or lead soldiers. Children who are 3-4 years old should not be given costumes made of flammable material; electrical toys; shooting toys that endanger eyes; or poorly balanced tricycles or riding toys. Children who are 4-6 years old should not be given toxic or oil-based paint sets; flammable costumes or ones with material to the floor; kites made of electrically conductible aluminized polyester film, electrical toys, unless battery-operated; or shooting toys or darts with pointed tips. Six to 6- year-old children should not be given kites made of electrically conductible aluminized polyester film; poorly made sports equipment; shooting toys or toys with loud noises; fireworks of any kind; electrical toys that run on household current; or lawn darts. Dangerous toys for children 8-12 years old include lawn darts; fireworks of any kind; sharp-edged tools; poorly constructed sports equipment; or BB guns and air rifles.
Teaching children the proper way to use the toys and to put away toys after use will also go a long way in ensuring that the youngsters remain safe.