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Dec 03 2018

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month!

The holidays are just around the corner, which means children and families are brimming with excitement about snow days, time spent with loved ones, and of course, gifts under trees. December is also National Safe Toys and Gifts Month. According to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission, hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries in 2010 in the United States and 72% of those injuries were to children under the age of 15. On top of that, more than 19 million toys were recalled due to safety concerns such as lead paint and small magnets in 2007 alone.

In order to prevent buying dangerous, or possibly even fatal, toys for your children around the holidays, there are a few guidelines to follow to ensure your child’s safety.

First and foremost, remember that all toy manufacturers are required to follow certain guidelines and must label new toys for specific age groups to enable parents to buy age-appropriate toys. This means that while older toys and hand-me-downs may hold sentimental value, they may be best kept on higher shelves for décor rather than for playtime since they may no longer comply with U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards. Older toys may be more likely to break, and may still contain lead paint as well.

Secondly, stuffed toys should be machine-washable. Stuffed toys receive lots and lots of love, and therefore can pick up lots and lots of germs, so if they aren’t able to be washed in a washing machine, your child may be more susceptible to illnesses. Also, all toys made of fabric should be flame retardant or flame resistant.

All art materials should be non-toxic, and all crayons and paints should say “ASTM D-4236” on the package. This means they have passed an evaluation by the American Society for Testing and Materials and are safe for your child to use.

Toys should also be age-appropriate for your child. Babies and toddlers should not have access to any toys that are breakable. Toys should be strong enough to withstand any chewing, smashing, pulling, or pushing. There should be no sharp ends that could poke, parts that could pinch fingers or body parts, strings longer than 7 inches, small parts (such as wheels, buttons, or eyes) that could be pulled loose and put into mouths, or any protruding pieces that could be inserted into the mouth. Anything smaller than 4.4 centimeters can become lodged in the throat and cause choking or restricted breathing.

The most important thing is to always supervise children while they are playing in order to keep them safe and to use your best judgment as a parent or caregiver.

Toys and gifts are meant to be fun! Opening gifts during the holidays is always magical for children, and giving safe toys makes it fun for everyone.

Of course, one of the safest and best gifts you can give to a child is a book. Nothing beats pulling a child onto your lap and reading to them. It promotes quality time, early literacy, and stimulates their imagination.
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