Getting to pick gifts for children can be fun during the holidays, but it can be intimidating. In 2014, 251,800 children were treated in the emergency room for a toy-related injury. 69 percent of those injuries occurred in children under the age of 12.
There are a couple of main things to pay attention to when choosing gifts.
Age-appropriateness: Definitely pay attention to the recommended age listed on the toy’s packaging. If you’re buying for someone else’s child, it might be a good idea to check with the parents on the appropriateness of toys. All children develop slightly differently so checking with the parents is the safest bet.
Size: Choking on a toy’s parts is one of the biggest risks associated with toys for young children. Children under three should not have any toys with parts smaller than their mouth. The go-to test is to see if the smallest toy part will fit through a toilet paper roll. If a part of the toy fits entirely through a toilet paper roll, it is not safe for children under three. Also, pay especially close attention to parts that can easily be pulled off the toy and swallowed.
Materials: Make sure toys are well-made of sturdy materials. Also pay attention to any toxic materials such as lead paint or toxic chemicals that are sometimes put in plastics. For art supplies, make sure the packaging specifies that they are nontoxic.
Magnets: Magnets and toys with magnets can be particularly dangerous for children. When multiple magnets are swallowed they can be attracted to each other and cause damage to internal organs. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that children under 14 should not have toys with magnets.
Here’s a great guide for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) on Good Toys for Young Children by Age and Stage.