Keep toy safety in mind for children

Age recommendations are an important thing to consider when buying gifts for children, according to Dr. Joshua Dykla at UP Health System-Marquette. (Stock photos)

MARQUETTE — With the holiday that so many children love the most just two days away, Dr. Joshua Dykla, a pediatrician at UP Health System, has some advice to give parents who are out getting the last few gifts for Christmas.

“The most important thing I would tell parents is to read the label on the toy or game,” Dr. Dykla said. “Read the label to see if the toy is age range appropriate. Is it safe for a 3-year-old? What ages is it safe for? That’s probably the biggest thing.”

These age recommendations come from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, a federal government agency.

Injuries linked to toys are not uncommon. The CPSC website states: “In 2004, there were an estimated 210,300 toy-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments. Seventy-seven percent (161,100) of the injuries that year were to children under 15 years of age, and 35 percent (72,800) were to children under 5. CPSC also has reports of 16 toy-related deaths involving children under age 15 that occurred in 2004. Seven deaths occurred when the child choked or aspirated a toy.”

Dr. Dykla said that’s something people shopping for toys need to consider: “If you’re buying toys for young kids, you have to be thinking if the item or parts of the item are large enough for the child to not choke on it.”

Electronics have become a huge asked-for category for children of all ages.

“I don’t have recommendations for one device vs. another,” Dr. Dykla said. “But I do recommend they look for the UL label with a circle around it.”

UL stands for Underwriters Lab, an independent agency that evaluates electronic devices for safety.

“That’s a group that makes sure through testing that an electronic device is safe,” Dr. Dykla said.

Dr. Dykla emphasized parents should be aware of recent recommendations regarding children and the use of electronics.

Age recommendations are an important thing to consider when buying gifts for children, according to Dr. Joshua Dykla at UP Health System-Marquette. (Stock photos)

“The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children have less than two hours of recreational screen time per day. That’s all electronic devices, including games, tablets and televisions,” he said. “And for children younger than 2, it’s not recommended they use electronics, including cell phones, at all.”

For parents who want to do some home recycling by passing toys down from an older child to a younger child, Dr. Dykla said the first thing to check is the material the toy is made of.

“Older toys, especially, could have lead paint so that’s something to check into,” he said. “And the general condition of the toy is important. You don’t want to give a child a toy that’s falling apart or might be easily broken. So sturdy is what you’re looking for.”

Two other tips Dr. Dykla offered:

“Stuffed animals: Make sure they are well made, with tight seams. Good construction is important because stuffing is a swallowing hazard.”

“Magnets: Toys with those must be age-appropriate. And they must be stored in a safe place as should items with batteries. Magnets and batteries are both hazards for children choking.”

For more information on toy safety, visit the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website at www.cpsc.gov.

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