Are your kids' toys safe?

December 16, 2011 5:12:51 PM PST
Almost 200,000 children went to the emergency room last year. Most were injured on scooters, and many of them had a head injury because they weren't wearing a helmet. Parents buying smaller toys for Christmas gifts shouldn't presume they're safe, just because they're made for children.

Parents are desperate to buy the Christmas toys that their children are asking for, and the last thing they're worried about as they shop in these waning days before Christmas is cord length, or batteries that fall out and choking hazards.

"The smaller toys I get really nervous about; you hear about it all the time, about kids choking," said Nellie Chavez, a mother of a four-year-old.

This is how it happens: a toy school bus looks harmless but watch the wheels, they pop off. Kelsey-Seybold pediatrician Dr. Kara Carter uses a toilet paper roll as a guide for what's too small:

"If the object is small enough to fit into this toilet paper roll it's too small to give to any child under three years old," Dr. Carter said.

This wooden duck seems safe. But the chord is so long it could strangle a baby.

"For chords in the crib, it should be less than 12 inches," Dr. Carter said.

So when you're looking through Santa's workshop for the toy of your child's dreams, beware of some toys. They could give you a surprise that no one wants on Christmas morning. Imagine your four-year-old wielding it against a sibling's eye! Here's a bow with lots of instructions.

"It tells children not to pull it back at more than half strength. This made for eight-year-olds, so tell an eight-year-old not to pull it back half strength. Also it says don't aim it at anybody," Dr. Carter said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends toys that are:

  • Sturdy
  • No points or sharp edges
  • Larger than 2 inches by 1 inch
  • Avoid toys made of lead or cadmium
  • Avoid button batteries
  • And toys with high powered magnets

Simple rules to keep the family at home, not the emergency room on Christmas day.

Last year, 17 children died in toy-related deaths. Most of those were caused by choking. Signs a child is choking include lips or mouth turning blue, gagging, drooling, or confusion.

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