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Vincent Iannelli, M.D.

Safe Toys and Gifts Month

By December 5, 2010

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It likely doesn't come as a surprise to anyone that December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month.

Each year, Prevent Blindness America, encourages people to make toy safety a priority as they do their holiday shopping, including that they:

  • Buy age appropriate toys.
  • Look for toys and other gifts that meet American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards.
  • Review warnings on the toy's box.
  • Avoid shooting toys and toys that have pieces that shoot or fly off.
  • Remember that BB guns and air guns are not really toys.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also provides tips for choosing a safe toy, including that you look for a toy that is sturdy, made with nontoxic materials, not too loud, and if it is an electric toy, that it is UL approved.

In addition to general toy safety guidelines, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and other experts have highlighted hazardous toys the last few years, including:

  • Toys with small magnets, which can be swallowed and lead to serious medical problems if two or more magnets are swallowed.
  • Toys with lithium button batteries that can be easily removed without a screwdriver and can be a hazard if swallowed.
  • Lead paint on recalled toys.
  • Metals in children's jewelry, which can include lead, cadmium, and other toxic metals.

Unfortunately, most of these toys weren't found to be hazardous until they were recalled after having been on the market for some time. That makes it important to inspect toys before you buy them to make they are well made and don't have any hidden hazards.

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