Age-Appropriate Toys for the Holidays
By Dr. Paul Sirbaugh
almost the season for toy buying and advertisements galore. Before
family members rush to purchase that special holiday surprise, I
suggest checking your list twice to determine if items are appropriate
for young children.
from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that
140,700 children visited hospital emergency rooms last year for
toy-related injuries. Thirteen children died. To prevent a tragic
holiday season, parents should consider not only a child's age,
but his or her maturity level as well.
are some safe toy-buying guidelines to follow:
children younger than 7 years of age, I always say to add a year
to be on the safe side. In some cases, even an additional year may
not be enough of a precaution.
your child is developmentally delayed, realize that he/she may not
be ready for a particular toy. Also, siblings' toys should not always
be accessible to the child who is developmentally delayed and very
much at risk.
toy is not the right choice if it is smaller than your child's fist.
If there is a moveable or loose part that is smaller than your child's
fist - even if the toy is larger, a child should not play with it.
that are suitable for children over the age of 3 are not suitable
for infants and toddlers. Many of these toys have small parts, which
can pose choking hazards to little ones. Additionally, toys with
cords and strings longer than 12 inches are strangulation hazards
for children under age 3.
with sharp edges or toys that run on electricity shouldn't be given
to children under 8 years of age.
purchasing toys for an older child, think about the younger children
in the house. Could this toy pose a hazard for the 1-year-old who
is still crawling? Older children should not be denied toys for
their age groups - they just need to be encouraged to keep their
toys out of the hands of younger siblings.
shopping for toys, also examine the quality. Make sure toys meet
the toy safety standards from the CPSC and don't have any broken
parts. Consider the size of the toy. If a toy is too heavy, a child
definitely could get hurt if it fell on him or her. Read content
labels carefully to make sure the toy does not contain lead or paint,
which can be toxic. And finally, if your child will be receiving
a bike or roller blades this year, don't forget the safety equipment:
helmet, knee pads and wrist guards.
Paul Sirbaugh is the director of pre-hospital medicine at Texas
Children's Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor
College of Medicine. For more information on Texas Children's Emergency
Center, visit www.texaschildrenshospital.org.
The nonprofit Texas Children's Hospital, celebrating 50 years, is
the largest children's hospital in the United States.