The Season of Giving

by Jessica Morgan, MD

boy santa

Christmas time is the most wonderful time of year, the season of giving.  It’s an especially magical time for the children in our lives, full of wonder, joy, anticipation, and of course- TOYS! Keep those holiday memories enjoyable and free of unexpected hospital visits.  Here’s some of our expert advice on how to choose age appropriate and safe toys.

Toy manufacturers make it easy to select age appropriate toys.  Their age recommendations are made based on four categories: the safety aspects including choking hazards; physical ability of the child to play with the toy; the ability of the child to understand how to use the toy properly; and the needs and interests at various levels of a child’s development.

Real dangers to younger kids are choking and strangulation hazards.  Not sure if a toy or its parts are too small?  Toys and parts should be larger than a child’s mouth.  Look for sturdy construction with parts that cannot easily break off. When purchasing a soft toy or stuffed animal, make sure the eyes, nose, and other smaller parts are secured tightly.

Strings, cords, or ribbons more than 12 inches long pose a strangulation hazard.  These are often found on crib toys, pull toys, pacifiers, and clothing (hoodies).

Other toys to be cautious about:

Button Batteries: Found in musical toys and greeting cards. They are a serious health risk if swallowed, causing erosive damage or even electrical burns to the esophagus. button batteries

Rare Earth Magnets (and other strong magnets):  Have been known to cause intestinal perforation when two or more magnets in the GI tract bind together through intestinal tissue.  An intestinal perforation presents with severe and sudden abdominal as well nausea and vomiting and  is a medical emergency.

rare earth magnets

If you think your child has swallowed a battery or magnet or any other nonfood item, a trip to the emergency room is warranted.

Because some safety issues are not discovered until after a toy makes it the shelf, we recommend that parents join a recall list like the free one offered by SafeKids.org.  The site compiles product recalls specific to children and sends twice monthly email alerts for recent recalls.  Sign up is available at http://safekids.org/recallnews.

More recall information for consumer products, motor vehicles, foods, medicines, cosmetics, and environmental products can be found at www.recalls.gov.  You can also call the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 1-800-638-2772 or visit http://www.cpsc.gov to search for a specific product or category.

The best advice we can give parents in regards to preventing injuries, is to always supervise your children or have them supervised by a responsible adult.

We hope these tips help you keep your loved-ones happy and safe.  For more on this topic, check out this month’s issue of Austin Woman Magazine.  Bee Well Pediatrics is featured in the health column, giving advice on making the holidays kid-friendly.  You can also stop by our office and pick up one of our Toy Safety Guides.

Happy Shopping and Merry Christmas!

Bee well.