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Purchasing safe toys

As children make their Christmas lists full of wishes for toys and parents plan for which toys they will purchase, the medical staff at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital suggests several ideas for safety in toys this holiday season.
Checking toys for hazards
Each year, some 5,000 new toys enter the market place. The holiday season finds more than 150,000 different kinds of toys for sale in approximately one million stores. Despite the efforts that manufacturers, retailers, safety inspectors and others make, it is impossible to examine every toy. However, it is possible for parents, relatives and other adults to check every new toy a child receives and every old toy around the house for possible hazards.The following suggestions may help you in purchasing and giving toys to the infants, children and teenagers on your holiday gift list this year:


  • Choose carefully. Look for good design and quality construction in all toys you buy. 
  • Watch out for toys that have sharp edges, small parts, or sharp points. 
  • Beware of loose string, rope, ribbons, or cord on toys. These items can easily become tangled around a child’s neck and strangle them. 
  • Buy toys that suit the child’s age, interest and abilities. Many toys have a suggested age range to help you choose toys that are appealing as well as safe. 
  • Injuries may be caused not only when children fall off riding toys, but also when they ride them where street traffic is present or near open water. 
  • Help children when using toy chests and other storage containers. Toy chests can pinch, bruise, or break tiny fingers and hands if a lid closes suddenly. Open containers without lids are safest for toy storage. 
  • Be a label reader. Look for safety information such as “Not recommended for children under 3 years of age,” or “non-toxic” on toys likely to end up in children’s mouths, or “washable/hygienic materials” on stuffed toys and dolls. 
  • Check with parents before buying toys that require close supervision — such as electrically operated toys, shooting toys and games, chemistry sets and the like. Remember, too, that younger children may have access to toys intended for older children once the toy has been brought into the home.
  • Look for the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) seal on electrical toys. It indicates the electrical parts have been tested for safety. 
  • There are also seven dangers of toys that each parent or guardian should be aware of: sharp edges, small parts, loud noises, sharp points, propelled objects, electric toys and the wrong toy for the wrong age. It is also important to teach your child how to play with certain toys.”All parents want to buy safe and fun toys for their children during the holidays,” says Dr Lise Christensen, Children’s Hospital Emergency Medical Physician. “Reading labels, picking age appropriate gifts and parental supervision may keep children playing with their new toys at home instead of being harmed and needing to be brought to the emergency room.”

    For more information about safe toy selection, visit the National Network for Child Care’s website at

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