Avoiding Trauma by Toys: Tips for Holiday Toy-Buying


pile of presentsEvery parent looks forward to seeing their child’s face light up at the sight of a new toy during the holidays. But as we begin to shop for our little ones, emergency room physicians say safety should be at the top of our shopping list.

To help parents make smart choices, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recently released a report offering guidance about toys with potentially hazardous features.

In 2015, more than 250,000 children were treated in emergency departments across the U.S. for toy-related injuries. Boys encountered more than half of those injuries.

Greg Newman, DO, is the medical director of Ascension Providence Express Care. Ascension Providence is a part of Ascension, the nation’s largest nonprofit health system and the world’s largest Catholic health system.

He says toy-related injuries happen time and time again, especially around the holidays.

“It’s exciting to see children tear into packages Christmas morning,” Newman said. “Shopping for age appropriate toys and making sure children are well supervised during play time can help prevent accidents.”

When accidents do happen, whether your child swallowed a battery or suffered a hard fall, it’s important to seek medical care immediately.

According to the report:

  • Non-motorized scooters were listed as the most dangerous toy, blamed for about 45 percent of toy-related deaths.
  • Bumps, bruises and cuts were the most common injuries.
  • Heads and faces were the body parts most affected by these injuries.

Newman points out parents should not only pay attention when they’re shopping, but they should also take a close look at toys their children receive as gifts from friends and relatives.

“Friends and relatives may not be aware of potential safety hazards lurking in the gifts they give,” Newman said. “If you question a toy’s safety, store it until your child is older. In some cases, it may be necessary to toss it.”

Other toy features to watch out for:

  • Balloons and balloon strings (choking, strangulation)
  • Stuffed toys, dolls, doll accessories, toy figurines (suffocating)
  • Water guns (drowning)
  • Tricycles (accidents involving motor vehicles)

Shopping? Consider these tips:

  • Study the label: It’s important to know how to properly use the toy. Read warning labels and instruction manuals to learn about proper play, and then give your child pointers on safe use.
  • Shop for age-appropriate toys: Check the packaging for age limitations.
  • Go big: To prevent choking, make sure the toys are too large to fit inside your child’s mouth.
  • Buy safety gear: For bikes, skateboards and similar toys, make sure your child is properly fitted with a helmet and pads.
  • Check the sound levels: Avoid any toys that are too loud to prevent hearing damage.
  • Beware of battery operated toys: Make sure your little one can’t remove the battery. “Button-style” batteries can cause potentially fatal internal burning when swallowed.
  • Look for non-toxic toys: Make sure toys don’t contain toxic materials that could be poisonous.

No matter what, supervise your child: Any toy can be dangerous without parental supervision.