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December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month
The holiday season is an exciting time for families, friends, and loved ones. One of the most beloved traditions that takes place during the holidays is the gift exchange, especially for children. When it comes to toys and gifts, the excitement and desire to get your children their favorite toys could cause shoppers to forget about safety factors associated with them. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, each year hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries throughout the United States. Most of the injuries affect children under the age of 15. In addition, in 2007, toymakers recalled over 19 million toys worldwide because of safety concerns like lead paints and small magnets. To ensure your children have a safe and healthy holiday, considering the safety and age range recommendation of the toys is critical.
Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when shopping for toys:
- Toys made of fabric should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Stuffed toys should be washable.
- Painted toys must use lead-free paint.
- Art materials should say nontoxic.
- Crayons and paint should say ASTM D-4236 on the package – which means that they they’ve been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.
- Try to steer clear of older toys, even some hand-me-downs from friends and family as these might not meet the current safety standards.
- Make sure the toy isn’t too loud – the noise of some rattles, squeak toys, and musical or electronic toys can be as loud as a car horn or even louder if the child holds it directly to their ear, which can damage hearing.
The Right Toys for the Right Age
When buying a gift or toy for a child, always read the label to make sure the toy is appropriate and safe for their age. Also, consider your child’s temper, habits, and behavior before buying a new toy. Children who can seem advanced compared to other children of their age, shouldn’t use toys meant for older kids. Age level toys are determined by safety factors, not intelligence or maturity.
Babies - babies about 4 months old begin to reach for and grasp objects. By 6 or 7 months, they can switch between hands. At 9 months, they can pick up smaller objects, like blocks. Some smart toys for babies could include a nursery mobile, a ring stack toy, and push-pull toys.
Toddlers – Toddlers start to become aware of the function of objects. They like to stack blocks, babble into toy phones, drink from “big kid” cups, and the pretend play starts now. Smart toys for toddlers could be balls, shape-sorting toys, mechanical toys, or role-play toys like play kitchens, toy doctor’s kits, and child golf sets.
Pre-school – preschoolers are at the age and development level of using objects for their intended purpose. Often, they may have imaginary friends or fantasy worlds that they play in. This is also the period where they will be learning new little tricks and connecting with other children. Safe toys and gifts for children of this age could consist of arts and crafts, blocks and construction sets, puzzles and other games.
Elementary School – Children of this age group have begun to grasp an understanding of the world around them and start to show talents and interests. Physical abilities and motor skills are being refined during this age and peer relationships take on a larger importance. Some smart toy and gifts options could include a jump rope, or other physical activity toys, card and board games, musical instruments, and science toys.
Safety tips to keep in mind this holiday season
When picking out toys and gifts for your children, you should not only consider what is appropriate for their age and ability, but you should also keep in mind safety tips for that age range and toy. A toy could be the perfect fit for their age and development, but there are still safety factors that need to be evaluated.
Balloons – Children can suffocate or choke on deflated or broken balloons. Keep away from children younger than eight years old, discard broken balloons immediately.
Small balls and toys with small parts – Avoid gifting toys with small parts to children younger than three because it can cause choking.
Riding toys – Riding toys like skateboards, skates, and scooters go fast and could cause harmful and deadly falls. If gifting a riding toy, make sure a helmet and safety gear are warn properly at all times and are sized to fit.
Magnets – High-powered magnets sets are dangerous and should be kept away from children.
Giving your children a safe holiday season can be achievable by taking the proper precautions. You’ll be able to better protect your child from toy-related injuries by providing safe toys, environments, and adult supervision for when they open and play and with their toys.
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