Toys are an eagerly anticipated part of the holiday season for children. Here's what you need to know to make sure the toys you choose are safe and age appropriate.

Young Child with Toys Photo According to the Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC), tighter regulations on toy safety standards have led to a decrease in toy recalls. However, parents need to be aware of choosing safe, age appropriate toys for their children this holiday season.

In order to keep your child playing safe this year, use the following guidelines when selecting those presents.

  • Let age be your guide. Buy only age-appropriate toys for your children. If you have children younger than 3, be on the lookout for toys with small parts or toys that look like they could break easily. Make sure rattles won’t come apart and squeeze toys don’t have loose squeakers or whistles. Give any buttons, bells and eyes on stuffed animals the pull test to make sure they are secure. Many toys also have detachable parts small enough to be swallowed, so check these, too. Toys don’t have to be tiny to cause suffocation problems. A rule of thumb: If it can fit inside a toilet paper tube, it’s too small for infants and toddlers.
  • Consider age differences. The toys you buy for an older child can end up in smaller hands, so choose toys that won’t pose choking hazards. Avoid marbles, small balls, and games with balls or small disk batteries.
  • Don’t be a magnet for danger. Magnets can pose a serious health risk if swallowed. Choose toys and games that don’t have magnetic parts.
  • Quality, not quantity. A toy is no good if it falls apart in the first 15 minutes. Select high-quality toys that can stand up to a good toddler pounding.
  • Think thinking toys. Toys like shape sorters, stacking blocks and puzzles with large pieces are great ideas for smaller children because they help develop your child’s fine motor and cognitive skills.
  • Don’t string it along. Some pull toys have cords; other toys may have straps or cords. Make sure these are less than 7 inches to prevent unintentional strangulation.
  • Stick with manual toys. Electrified toys can cause burns or electric shock when a young child tries to use them. That also includes toys that use batteries, which may find their way into little mouths. Batteries contain alkaline corrosives that can cause severe burns if they leak.

Reviewed by: Patrick S. Pasquariello Jr., MD
Date: October 2014