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Smart shopping can help keep children safe.

When it comes to toy safety, shoppers should remember that some products can create a health hazard. The number one concern is choking: several dozen U.S. children died from choking or aspiration between 2005 and 2009. The risk is highest for toddlers between the ages of 1 and 3.

To reduce the dangers of choking, aspiration, or other health hazards, keep these guidelines in mind when shopping for toys this holiday season.

Consider the Child’s Age

  • For children under three, don’t buy toys with parts less than 1.25 inches in diameter or 2.25 inches long.
  • If buying balls for children under six, the balls should be at least 1.75 inches in diameter.
  • Uninflated or broken balloons are a choking hazard for young children.
  • For preschoolers, if a toy or other gift has a string, it should be 7 inches or shorter.
  • Young children should not have toys that contain small, powerful magnets.

Watch for These Health Hazards

At any age, children can be at risk from a variety of items:

  • Toys that produce loud noise
  • Toys that contain lead or other harmful chemicals
  • Toys with sharp edges or projectiles with sharp points
  • Art supplies not labeled as nontoxic

Follow These General Tips

  • Read labels to make sure the toy is age appropriate.
  • Before a child uses the toy for the first time, follow all safety instructions.
  • Periodically check toys to make sure they are in good condition. Look for such things as:

    • Rust on metal toys
    • Splinters on wooden toys
    • Exposed parts or split seams on stuffed toys
  • Check the list of recalled toys and other items maintained by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

At North Hills Hospital, we care about the health and safety of our youngest patients. If your child is ever injured in any way, our emergency room is ready to help. For outpatient surgical procedures, the staff at the Texas Pediatric Surgery Center is specially trained to keep kids calm and safe before, during, and after an operation. For more information about the center, call (817) 255-1010.

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