Parkridge Medical Group December 10, 2014

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an estimated 265,000 children—more than 725 per day—were treated in U.S. emergency departments for toy-related injuries in 2012.

When considering purchases or evaluating gifts, use these tips to help keep toy-safety issues from spoiling your young recipient’s fun:

Choose age-appropriate toys. Check the packaging for the toy’s intended user age range, which is based on the average physical and cognitive abilities of children in that age group. Be realistic when deciding if the suggested age range matches your child’s maturity and developmental stage. For example, if your 4-year-old still puts everything in his mouth, don’t give him a toy containing small parts, even if the label says it is meant for children 3 and older.

Read safety warnings. Cautionary labels on toys identify potential hazards such as sharp or breakable parts, toxic substances, or electrical components. Art supplies, including crayons and finger paints, should have the phrase “ASTM D-4236” printed on the package. This indicates the materials have been tested and found to be nontoxic by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Check for choking hazards. Toys that contain small parts a child could choke on, such as marbles, balls or game pieces, will include a safety warning. Such toys should not be given to any child younger than 3 or who habitually places objects in his or her mouth.

Give toys a once-over. Check all toys for safety hazards such as:

  • Strings and straps, which can strangle young children.
  • Plastic film coverings that protect mirrors and other smooth surfaces from scratches during shipment—these coverings can be a choking hazard and should be removed.
  • Unsecured batteries, which pose a risk for choking, internal bleeding and chemical burns. Button batteries are particularly hazardous for young children. Battery compartments should always be securely fastened.
  • Projectiles with hard points, which can cause eye injury. Toy darts and arrows should have suction cups or soft tips.