During this time of year, everywhere you look, you're practically inundated with television commercials, e-mails, and various ads trying to sell you on the latest and greatest must-have items for your kids. It's even harder to tune these messages out when your children are begging you (or Santa) for these gifts. Though seeing a child's face light up with joy while unwrapping presents is certainly a highlight of the holiday for any parent, there are actually quite a few hidden dangers in holiday toys that could pose a very real risk to your little ones' safety.
No parent ever wants to think about anything bad happening to their child, but being prepared for health hazards — from knowing how loud is too loud, and a surprising reason why you should be extra cautious about leaving a child unattended with small electronics — can actually ease many safety concerns. If you find yourself kept awake at night with worries over all the what-ifs and worst case scenarios, arming yourself with knowledge is an incredibly empowering first step in your journey of parenthood. Though the overlooked hazards in kids play items definitely warrant attention, there's no need to let that overshadow an otherwise fun and festive season.
As long as you're aware of the potential risks out there, you can prepare yourself accordingly, whether it's by not allowing some of these items in your home or keeping an extra watchful eye on your kids when they're playing with certain toy. Once you keep these dangers at bay, to the best of your ability, you can get to enjoying all the holiday festivities with the rest of your family.
1. Button Batteries
As most parents can tell you, most holiday toys need batteries of some sort before the fun can begin. The danger here is when these gadgets require particularly small batteries. According to Healthy Children, an informational site from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), "more than 3000 button batteries are ingested each year in the United States." Though they may look small and harmless, buttonbatteries can cause severe damage and extra caution should be taken to prevent injury. So if the safety casing over the battery is broken or missing, it's probably best to replace it before allowing your child to go to town on it.
It's also helpful to know that there are actually very specific guidelines for preventing choking hazards in children's toys. "A small part is any object that fits completely into a specially designed test cylinder 2.25 inches long by 1.25 inches wide," according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (USCPSC). The reason for these measurements is because this "approximates the size of the fully expanded throat of a child under three," USCPSC further explained.
2. Overly Loud Items
Like moths drawn to a flame, kids seem to love loud, flashing toys. According to the website for the Sight and Hearing Association (SHA), items should be no greater than 85 decibels (dB) from a distance between 25 and 50 centimeters to prevent hearing damage or loss in children. To give you an idea of how things measure in terms of decibels, the Industrial Noise Control included a, "Boeing 737 aircraft, power lawn mower, or motorcycle," clock in at 90 dB. Last year's Noisy Toys List from SHA had nearly two dozen popular holiday toys that were considered to be dangerously loud for little ears.
From birthday parties to holiday celebrations, balloons are a staple of festive decorations, and some kids treasure them more than their favorite toys. But, as pediatrician Dr. Mariann Manno told Parents, "balloons are one of the worst things to choke on because they can conform to a child's throat and completely block breathing." It's also a good idea to keep an eye out for toys with latex or inflatable parts and definitely pitch those balloons as soon as they've deflated.
According to the official website for the American Academy of Opthalmology (AAO), "ophthalmologists treat thousands of patients with devastating eye injuries caused by seemingly safe toys." Wait, what? Toy guns, boomerangs, and anything that might fly near a child's face can be extremely dangerous, even the foam ones. Maybe you should gift any flying toy with safety goggles — for them and you.
5. Cord Length
You're certainly not alone if you've never thought to take a tape measure to your child's toys. According to the official website for the organization World Against Toys Causing Harm (WATCH), "strings on crib toys are to be less than 12 inches in length." Yet, "manufacturers are still permitted to market 'pull toys' ... with a cord measuring approximately 19 inches." To avoid strangulation, make sure your child's toys with strings, leashes, or long strands are 12 inches or less in length.
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