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December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month

Children's Hospital Physicians Encourage Gift Givers to Consider Safety when Purchasing Presents

MACON, GA (Monday, December 9, 2013) – The holiday season is a wonderful time to give gifts to the children in our lives, but pediatricians at The Children's Hospital at The Medical Center of Central Georgia (MCCG) encourage gift givers to exercise caution when selecting presents for little ones.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, hospital emergency rooms in the U.S. treated approximately 252,000 toy-related injuries in 2010, with 72 percent of those younger than age 15.

“People are excited about gift giving at this time of year, and we all want to give our children and grandchildren the new toys they desire, but shoppers need to remember several safety factors before they make their purchases,” said Dr. Anthony Pearson-Shaver, Chief of Pediatrics at The Children's Hospital at The Medical Center of Central Georgia. 

The pediatricians at The Children's Hospital at MCCG offer the following tips for shoppers:

  • The toy should suit the age and individual skills and abilities of the child who will receive it, especially if the recipient is younger than three years of age. Look for age appropriate labels on toys.
  • Try to avoid toys that shoot, have parts that fly off, have points or sharp edges.
  • Make sure that toys are not too loud and will not cause hearing damage if the child holds it to his or her ear. 
  • Choose sturdy toys that will not break easily.
  • Look for safety inspection labels.
  • Choose crayons and markers that are designated “nontoxic.”
  • Toys made with fabric should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant. Stuffed toys should be washable.
  • Include protective equipment with sporting equipment – for example, give a helmet and protective padding when giving a bicycle or skates.
  • Toys with magnets and button batteries may cause serious injury or death if swallowed. Do not give gifts that contain these or any small pats to young children.
  • Avoid toys with ropes, cords and heating elements.
  • Show your children how to use the toy safely, and always supervise children as they play.

In addition, older toys may contain lead based paint. Try to choose toys that use lead free paint. As a precaution, parents should educate themselves on symptoms of lead poisoning and be aware of toys that have been recalled due to lead exposure. Parents should contact a physician if they believe their child has been exposed to lead.

“Toys are not only fun, but also an important part of any child's development. Children are best protected when parents, grandparents or other loved ones carefully choose their toys and supervise their play,” said Dr. Pearson-Shaver.