While we’re all in a little extra need of play and joy this holiday season, it’s still a good idea to put safety first. Alan L. Nager, M.D., of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, has this advice about toy safety.
What are the biggest toy safety hazards are families likely to encounter?
High-risk toys are those that are too small for the child to play with. These kinds of toys can create a choking or aspiration risk, meaning the toy can be sucked into the airway. In addition, some toys, although “age-appropriate,” have movable or fragile small parts that can easily break off, causing local irritation or bleeding in the mouth or choking and aspiration risk.
Where can shoppers look for safety information if they are buying toys online?
The description should clearly suggest the age range that is most appropriate for that particular toy. Buyers can also look for the letters “ASTM,” which signifies that the toy product meets the national safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Another good resource to check is the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website for a list of recalled toys and recall alerts.
What do parents need to know about sanitizing toys, especially if they will be shared?
There are a number of ways to sanitize toys, including simple soap-and-water washing before and after use, bleach wipes with a subsequent water rinse or an alcohol-based sanitizer, again with subsequent water washing as alcohol can be toxic to children.
Are there some toys that make good choices for children having play dates at a healthy distance from each other?
Larger self-contained toys that can be easily moved from one person to another work best. This, of course, assumes that the larger toy can be cleaned from one person’s usage to the next. In contrast, toys with multiple parts such as board games or puzzles entice children to be closer to each other and thus create an increased health risk to the child.
What hazards should families be aware of while gifts are being opened?
Meticulous supervision should occur when gifts are opened, especially if young children are around. Decorations on the wrapping paper can have small ribbons, beads, etc., that can be sucked into the child’s mouth, causing choking and aspiration. In addition, wrapping paper often includes lead, toxic dyes and small slivers of tape – all of which can be dangerous to a child. And lastly, the cushioning contents in the gift box can contain shreds of paper, packing peanuts or various forms of Styrofoam, all of which can cause airway obstruction and risk of suffocation if placed in the child’s mouth.