LOS ANGELES — The gift buying season is in full swing and it’s important to keep safety in mind when shopping for children’s toys.
“Toys are a fun and important part of a child’s development, but they can also pose some dangers if they are not age-appropriate or used correctly,” said Eleonora Kleyman, MD, a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center. “The best way to ensure toy safety is to read the toy manufacturer labels and supervise children while they play with their toys.”
Dr. Kleyman recommends the following be kept in mind when selecting toys:
Top Tips for Choosing Safe Toys:
Toy size (for children 3 and under)
- Small toys or toys that have small pieces that can break off when a child is playing can be a choking hazard. If an object can fit inside a toilet paper roll, which is roughly the size of a child’s throat, it’s not safe.
- Make sure the toy is age-appropriate by reading the labels. Warning labels give important information about how to use a toy and age recommendations. Also keep in mind that curious younger children may try to play with toys designed for older children.
Toys with bright lights
- Toys with flashing lights and sounds can be fun and stimulating for a child. But flashing lights can be harmful to a child’s eyesight or could disturb sleep patterns if they remain on when your child is trying to sleep.
Toys with loud sounds
- Avoid toys that are loud to prevent damage to a child’s hearing. Some rattles, squeak toys, musical or electronic toys can be too loud for children.
Toys with wheels
- Watch out for toys that can cause trips or falls, such as skateboards or scooters. Ensure that the child has the right safety gear — including a properly sized helmet, elbow and knee pads, etc.
Toys with batteries
- Toys with battery cases should be secured with screws so that kids cannot pry them open.
Toys with magnets
- Avoid all toys with small, high-powered magnets or loose magnets. If swallowed, the magnets can pull together with enough force to cause serious or life-threatening damage to a child’s digestive system.
- Avoid toys with toxic materials, such as lead and phthalates (fa-thal-ates). Phthalates are a group of chemicals typically used in plastics (a common one you see is BPA). Look for “lead-free” and “nontoxic” messaging on the toy’s label.
For more tips on toy safety, check out this video featuring Dr. Kleyman.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 11.7 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.