Safe Toys and Gifts Month: A Reminder that Parents are the Authorities
By Maria Jauhar, M.D.
December is observed as Safe Toys and Gifts Month to remind us that regulations alone are not enough to ensure our children’s safety in the season of giving.
The National Safety Council and others have succeeded in seeing competent rules enforced for the safety of toys, even toys imported from abroad. But those rules alone don’t complete the picture. The attention of parents and loved ones is required too, to make sure the holiday season is a happy and healthy one.
We Can Be Confident – But Not Overconfident
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has built a systematic initiative for toy safety that requires third-party testing and sets strict standards.
Choosing safe toys still takes thoughtful attention and a little research from the parents to make sure each child is getting gifts that are both safe and suitable. Even dear relatives can’t be expected to know as much as parents about what gift choices fit a child’s interests, skills, and capacities.
Some hazards are obvious, such as sharp edges, and some are not, such as games involving marbles or any other pieces smaller than an inch and three-quarters. The tendency of small children to twist and “taste” their playthings must be considered, so be watchful for parts that can be broken off and swallowed. Deflated or broken balloons should be discarded right away to avoid this same kind of risk. Straps, strings or cords longer than seven inches can become choking hazards too.
When It’s Time for Skill
Gifts that call for the skills we acquire gradually as we grow, such as bikes and even tricycles, call for instruction and protective gear. Yes, most of us grew up without a helmet, but times have changed for the better in some ways. Helmets for riders and protective knee and elbow pads for skaters are some of the good things about the 21st Century. They make great follow-on gifts, too.
Instruction in how to bike, trike, or skate has for generations been a bonding time for parent and child. It’s also a vital step for safety, so let’s not short-change it.
After the Gifts are Opened
Sometimes the danger is not from the toy itself, so Child & Family Services compiled some excellent tips for what to watch out for after gifts are opened.
Plastic wrapping can become dangerous to small children, so it’s a good idea to dispose of plastic immediately, even if leaving the gift-wraps on the floor as we open others is part of holiday color. Battery charging should be a grown-up job because of the tendency of some chargers to heat up.
And with all the care we devote to choosing safe and appropriate gifts for our small children, we can’t forget to take care that their older siblings don’t hand over gifts that weren’t selected for the young ones.
Giving the Care You Want for Your Family
The extra care your family deserves comes naturally. It is the focus of Safe Toys and Gifts Month just because the know-how needs some tuning up when it comes to selecting holiday gifts. That kind of care comes naturally to us, too, and we made it the focus of our practice.
To schedule an appointment with us at Island Family Medical Center, call 912.897.6832 or use our online appointment request form.