Be a Safe Santa when Giving Toys
Posted: November 14, 2012
The holidays are upon us, and if you are like me, I’m already shopping for my grandchildren. When my children were young, they practically wore out the “Christmas toy catalog.” Just when I thought I knew what they wanted (and I was willing to buy), their wish list grew as the commercials advertising toys were injected between their favorite television programs. I was never surprised when everything on their list was appropriate for their age and skill level. Amidst the crowds, holiday music, and overstocked shelves, it can be very overwhelming to find the appropriate gift for any age child whether or not it is on their wish list. With this in mind, if you are the Santa in your children’s life, make sure you do your research before going shopping and purchase age-appropriate and safe toys.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has offered the following tips to help you make safe toy choices for children:
- · Make sure the toy is specified for the age of your children. It may be safe for your 7 year old, but if you have a toddler in the home, it may not be safe for her. The government has regulations on toy diameter and length that will prevent your baby or toddler from choking. Never leave a baby unattended with toys and games containing small parts.
- · Toys that plug into an electrical outlet are a no-no for the under 10 set. Prevent burns and electrical shocks by buying battery-operated toys for younger children. Make sure that the battery is in a secured compartment that cannot be accessed by the child.
- · Buttons, batteries, and magnets pose a serious health risk when swallowed, causing stomach and intestinal problems and possible death. Call your pediatrician or other health care provider immediately if you child swallows one of these items.
- · Store toys in a designated location, such as on a shelf or in a toy chest, and keep older kids’ toys away from young children.
- · Read instructions carefully on a toy before allowing your children to play with it. Before purchasing, read the label on the box for the age-appropriateness of the toy.
- · Don’t leave children unattended with balloons. Un-inflated or broken balloons are a choking hazard for children under 8. As much as they love parties with balloons, you need to keep the floor cleaned up as soon as a balloon breaks. And they will break!
- · Watch out for pull toys with strings more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies. Babies roll and take the string along with them often tangling themselves. To be safe, cut the cords of old used toys as well as new ones when taken out of the box.
A rule of thumb to consider when choosing a toy is to ask, “What will the child learn from playing with this toy? Is the toy getting the child involved in play or is it a passive toy?” From my experience, children play the most with toys that encourage imaginary play, keep them actively busy, and engage their minds in critical thinking and problem solving.
As a grandparent of an infant this holiday, what can you possibly purchase? The best gift is anything that is eye-catching, or makes noise, is perfect. (Parents would probably like a box of diapers as well!) As we all have experienced as parents, toddlers and young children love empty boxes. They’ll play for hours creating things out of a box and playing in the box. Not all great gifts cost money. A painted refrigerator box made into a play house for inside play can be a perfect gift on a rainy day. Be creative. The perfect gift for your children is something that will sustain their interest as well as give you peace even for just a short period of time.
If you are really lost for ideas, ask the parent to take their children to a local store and register for possible gifts. You can check that list and know that you aren’t purchasing something someone else bought, and you’ll be sure that this is something the children would like to receive. Hopefully the parent will have done their research to make sure the gift is safe for all the ages in the home.
Have a happy and healthy safe holiday!