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Buying Safe Toys for the Holidays

It’s the time of year when children start making lists of the toys they dream of – the ones they know will be absolutely necessary for their upcoming adventures! We encourage children to play as much as possible. It is how they grow and learn.

While most toys are safe, toy-related injuries are more common than you might think. Our latest research shows that every 3 minutes in the U.S., a child is treated in an emergency department for an injury received playing with a toy – and these numbers are on the rise.

Our research showed that the type of injury varied by age:

For children under 3 years of age, choking on small toys or small parts of larger toys is the biggest risk.

  • Every day, 14 children are treated in a hospital for an injury they got from swallowing or inhaling a small toy or toy part.

Older children, those ages 5-17 years, are more likely to suffer injuries from riding toys including foot-powered scooters, wagons, and tricycles.

  • The number of injuries from foot-powered scooters has sky-rocketed in recent years.
  • Since 2000 when they starting rising in popularity, a child has been treated in an emergency department every 11 minutes for an injury from a foot-powered scooter.
  • Injuries from riding toys are three times more likely to involve broken bones or dislocations than injuries from other toys.

As you hit the aisles to buy the dream toys on your child’s wish list, keep safety in mind so one of his adventures is not a trip to the emergency department. We want your children home with you, not here with us over the holidays.

Here are some tips to keep mind while at the store:

  • Check the label. The age recommendations set by manufacturers reflect the safety of a toy based on potential choking hazards as well as children’s development.
  • Buy a helmet. If you are going to buy a riding toy, make a helmet part of the gift. Knee pads and elbow pads are also recommended.
  • Look at the battery compartment. Only buy toys with battery compartments that need a screwdriver to open or have child-resistant locking mechanism. Batteries can be toxic if swallowed.
  • Avoid toys with magnets. Magnets can cause serious damage to organs if more than one is swallowed.
  • Check Recalls.gov. This is a great resource to see if toys that you own or may buy have been recalled due to safety concerns.

For more information on toy safety, visit www.nationwidechildrens.org/cirp-toy-safety

Tracy Mehan, MA
Tracy Mehan is the manager of translational research for the Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. In this role, she takes injury prevention research out of the journals and into the community. As the mother of a very active 12-year-old boy and an aunt to 21 nieces and nephews, she frequently gets to see firsthand the need for various injury prevention measures. When she isn’t out trying to save the world, you can find her on the basketball court with her son, with her nose in her kindle, or exploring websites on pirate trivia.

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