Avoiding Toy Hazards
Choking: The #1 danger
For children under 4, watch out for:
- Toys with small parts (like button eyes on animals or dolls and wheels on trains or cars) that can be pulled loose.
- Crib or floor toys with cord or string: Can strangle babies.
- Balloons: If popped and put in mouth, breathing can be blocked. Don't let kids under 8 play with them unattended.
- Shrink-wrap, plastic straps, and bolts used to package toys.
- Button batteries: Even if a child swallows one without choking, the electric currents can damage the esophagus. Get him to the ER immediately -- removing it may require surgery.
Preventing riding-toy injuries
- Make sure your child always wears her helmet and other protective gear on a bike, a scooter, skates, or a skateboard; sporting-goods stores can help you get a good fit.
- She should be able to touch the ground with the balls of her feet when she sits on a bike seat.
- She shouldn't wear loose clothing or scarves, which could get caught in the bike's pedals and choke her; also, no sandals, so her feet stay on the pedals.
- Until a child is at least 10, she'll need to be with an adult to ride in the street.
When to get medical help after a fall
Most bumps on the head need only an ice pack and some TLC, but take your child to the ER if any of these occur:
- Loss of consciousness -- even for a moment
- Vomiting, especially if it's frequent or continuous
- Slurred speech or "goofy" behavior
- A seizure (call 911; do not transport or move your child)
To check for a broken bone, gently press along the length of the bone -- if your child winces at a certain spot, it might be a fracture. Other signs: swelling, bruising, tenderness, deformity.
If a cut or scrape won't stop bleeding after pressure is applied for ten minutes, is deep, has an object embedded in it, or looks like it might be infected, see a doctor.
- Loud toys can cause hearing loss. Toy noise and music should be no louder than 90 decibels (about as loud as a blender) and 70 decibels if it's meant to be held close to the ear.
- Throw out (or repair) broken toys. Look for ripped seams on soft toys, where small parts could be exposed; splinters or chipped paint on wooden toys; rust on outdoor playthings.
- Respect the age range. Your 2-year-old may well be gifted, but "for children 3 and up" doesn't refer to intelligence; it's a rating designed to prevent choking and other physical hazards.
- Try the toilet paper roll test: If a toy or part can fit through it, a child under 4 can choke on it. Very dangerous: rubber balls.
- Stay on top of toy safety with our Product Recall Alerts
Recent Product Recalls