Think safety when buying holiday toys

With many buying last minute holiday gifts, you may be considering what toys to buy for the children on your list.  But before you make those purchases, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon pediatricians at HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital remind you to consider and check the safety and age-range of the toys. 

“We encourage you to be safe and selective when choosing what to gift during the holiday season,” notes Christopher Wangard, MD, with SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Pediatrics. “When choosing a toy for a child, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the toy be appropriate for the child’s age and stage of development. This makes it more likely the toy will engage the child – and reduces the risk it could cause injury.” 

According to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) report, there were an estimated 251,700 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2017. Thirty-eight percent of these emergency department-treated injuries were classified as lacerations, contusions, or abrasions. Forty-four percent of the estimated injuries were to the head and face area, the most commonly affected area of the body.

Should any accidental injury occur, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, in partnership with SSM Health Cardinal Glennon, is here to provide excellent care to pediatric patients from birth to 18 years of age.  Specialized pediatricians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer high-quality pediatric care at St. Elizabeth’s Emergency Department and Newborn Nursery.

Check out these tips from the CPSC to ensure your child is safe when playing with toys: 

• Make sure toys are age-appropriate.  Check the label before buying, and toys for older children should be kept separate from toys for younger children.

• Look for quality design and construction in all toys for all ages.  Also make sure the toy would not cause injury if it fell on your child. 

• Make sure all directions or instructions are clear and read all labels.  Look for and heed recommendations and other safety warnings on toys and dolls.

• Throw away packaging after the purchase (or gift opening).  Packaging can present a choking hazard.  Children can suffocate on plastic bags or choke on peanut-style packaging.

• Avoid choking hazards.  Never give balloons or small balls to young children.  Children three years of age and younger should not be given toys with parts smaller than the opening of a toilet paper roll. 

• Don’t allow children to play with magnet toys.  If swallowed, some magnets attract to each other internally, causing infection, blockage and ulcerations.  

• If it sounds too loud, it probably is.  Some toys produce sounds that are loud enough to cause permanent hearing loss.  Listen to toys before purchasing them, and be cautious in buying talking dolls, toy cars with horns and sirens, walkie-talkies, instruments and more. 

• Don’t allow children to play with long cords or strings.  Toys with long strings or cords are dangerous as they can become wrapped around a child’s neck, causing strangulation. 

• Make sure the toys do not contain toxic chemicals.  Awareness of toxic chemicals in toys has largely eradicated them from being used any longer, but it’s worth double-checking before you buy – especially if they’re little ones who might put it in their mouth. 

Wangard says, “Even with all the best planning and precautions, sometimes accidents, injuries and illness can happen but if parents, grandparents and loved ones understand smart purchasing practices, such as these, there will be less chance of visiting the Emergency Department during the holidays. 

To learn more about toy safety, visit