December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month, and according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 200,000 toy-related injuries were treated in Emergency Departments in 2021.
Dr. Roopa Thakur, a pediatrician with Cleveland Clinic Children’s, said it’s important to think about toy safety when picking out the perfect present.
“If you’re thinking about toys that might shoot objects into the air, just being very aware that they can cause bodily injury. They can cause eye injury, especially,” she said. “So, if you have kids that are running around and shooting things at each other, make sure that there is good supervision.”
Thakur said small toys and pieces can quickly become choking hazards if young children put them in their mouths.
Parents should also be wary of toys that have button batteries or high-powered magnets, as these can damage tissues and intestines if swallowed -- which is considered a surgical emergency.
While most toy-related mishaps result in minor cuts and scrapes, non-motorized scooters account for the highest number of injuries. When purchasing these or other riding toys like bikes, rollerblades, and tricycles it is recommended to pair them with safety gear.
“Consider giving a helmet,” said Thakur. “If you are gifting a hover scooter or something similar, knee and elbow pads would be great to gift, as well, to prevent injury in the case of a fall.”
To help determine the right age for a toy, look for the manufacturer’s guidelines on the packaging.
It’s also a good idea to check if the item has been recalled or banned.