CRMC Pediatrician, Wendi Johnson, M.D. compiled some helpful reminders about the toys you buy your little ones this Holiday season. Follow these tips below to help keep them safe for the Holidays.
Always follow age suggestions. If there are small pieces that detach or could come
loose, they are considered a choking hazard and are not recommended for children
under 3 years of age. This can include eyes on a stuffed animal, for example. Cords
and strings on toys are considered an asphyxia hazard. Sharp edges on toys make
them not appropriate for the under 8-year-old.
Use caution in regifting toys from the past or letting them play with toys from a
previous generation. Some toys have been updated for a reason. For example, older
versions of Fisher Price Little People are small enough to be a choking hazard. Toys
have been made of lead or painted with lead based paint in the past. If a child puts it in
their mouth or sucks on fingers after handling the toy, they could absorb some. With
older toys, supervision is paramount.
Latex balloons, when un-inflated, can occlude the airway if accidentally swallowed or
inhaled. They can also be hazardous if someone is allergic. The reaction to latex in an
allergic person worsens with each exposure.
Magnets are fun to play with; the fact that they stick to each other makes them
attractive to younger children who don’t have the dexterity to work with smaller
building blocks like Legos. But they need to be inspected to make sure the magnet
doesn’t come loose. If a magnet is accidentally ingested, the child should be clinically
evaluated. Magnets are easily seen on x-ray. The greatest danger is if more than one is
swallowed. They attract each other through the intestinal wall. The longer they are
attached, the greater the risk that the intestinal wall will break down.
Tablets, computer games and apps may be labeled as educational, but they really only
target ABCs, shapes and colors, and math skills. Important life skills like creative,
flexible thinking, managing emotions and impulse control are learned through
unstructured and social play.
Toys that facilitate social and/or unstructured play are the more “old school” toys.
Dolls, animals, action figures and cars promote imaginary play which helps social and
emotional development. Blocks, puzzles and Legos “build” fine motor skills. Balls and
ride on toys are good for gross motor skills. Books, board games and card games
initially, foster language development. As they mature, these types of activities help
them advance language but also teach nonverbal cues, cooperation and strategic
thinking. A digital version of a classic game doesn't have the same benefit.
Don’t forget art supplies. Coloring, painting and creating will help children develop fine
motor skills as well as creative, imaginative thinking. When they are encouraged to
create for someone (draw a picture, make a gift), they learn the joy of giving as well.
Safe holidays require some advanced planning and thoughtful gifting, as well as lots of