Consider Safety When Choosing Gifts for Children

toy safety tips

It would be too easy as a librarian to just recommend: “Buy all of the kids on your shopping list some wonderful age-appropriate books!”

While preventable injury isn’t a happy holiday topic, it is an important one. The Health Information Neighborhood partnered with Safe Kids Kansas to promote safe toys for kids with an eye-catching display in the Atrium this month. Unfortunately, preventable injury remains the leading killer of Kansas children ages 1-14, taking more lives than any other cause including diseases, homicide and suicide.

Tips on Toy and Shopping Safety from the American Academy of Pediatrics

  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
  • Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully.
  • To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, do not give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
  • Young children can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Children can have serious stomach and intestinal problems – including death – after swallowing button batteries or magnets. In addition to toys, button batteries are often found in musical greeting cards, remote controls, hearing aids, and other small electronics. Small, powerful magnets are present in many homes as part of building toy sets. Keep button batteries and magnets away from young children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows one.
  • Children can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons; do not allow children under age 8 to play with them.
  • Remove tags, strings, and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
  • Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
  • Parents should store toys in a designated location, such as on a shelf or in a toy chest, and keep older kids’ toys away from young children.

Here are some general guidelines from to keep in mind when toy-shopping:

  • Stuffed toys should be washable.
  • Painted toys should be covered with lead-free paint.
  • Art materials should say nontoxic.
  • Crayons and paints should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, which means that they’ve been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

The holidays are an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe and happy holiday season, here are more safety and mental health tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), including tips for trees, lights, decorations, toy safety, food safety, happy visiting, fireplaces and holiday mental health tips.

Talking about toy safety with smaller children can revolve around discussions of picture books about favorite toys.

Talk about toys with your kids

Open “Be gentle with the dog, dear” in catalog Be gentle with the dog, dear Open “Forgiving a friend” in catalog Forgiving a friend Open “I must have Bobo” in catalog I must have Bobo Open “My blue bunny, Bubbit” in catalog My blue bunny, Bubbit Open “My special one and only” in catalog My special one and only
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Lissa Staley

Lissa Staley helps people use the library. She is a Book Evangelist, Health Information Librarian, Arts & Crafts Librarian, Trivia Emcee, Classics Made Modern book group leader, and frequent library customer, especially with her children. She reads a new book every few days, but recently loved Adorkable by Sarra Manning, Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman and Tin Star by Cecil Castellucchi.