Avoiding holiday toy trauma


Are the toys under your tree safe?

When looking for the perfect gift to put under the tree, Dr. Eric Higginbotham, head of emergency medicine at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, says safety should be at the top of your shopping list. Dell Children’s is part of Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the United States and the largest Catholic health system in the world.

In 2016, an estimated 240,000 toy-related injuries were treated in emergency departments across the U.S. To help make smart, safe gift choices, the Consumer Product Safety Commission released a report offering guidance about potentially hazardous toys.

According to the report:

  • An estimated 73 percent of the toy-related injuries happened to children younger than 15.
  • Non-motorized scooters were listed as the most dangerous toy.
  • Bumps, bruises and cuts were the most common injuries.
  • Heads and faces were the body parts most affected by these injuries.

Shopping with toy safety in mind

With thousands of toy options on the shelves, Dr. Higginbotham offers eight safety-focused toy buying tips to help parents make smart and safe choices:

  1. Study the label: It’s important to know how to properly use the toy. Read warning labels and instruction manuals to learn about proper play, and then give your child pointers on safe use.
  2. Shop for age-appropriate toys:  Check the packaging for age limitations.
  3. Go big: To prevent choking, make sure the toys are too large to fit inside your child’s mouth.
  4. Buy safety gear: For bikes, scooters, skateboards and similar toys, make sure your child is properly fitted with a helmet and pads.
  5. Check the sound levels: Avoid any toys that are too loud to prevent hearing damage.
  6. Beware of battery operated toys: Make sure your little one can’t remove the battery. “Button-style” batteries can cause potentially fatal internal burning when swallowed.
  7. Look for non-toxic toys: Make sure toys don’t contain toxic materials that could be poisonous.
  8. No matter what, supervise your child: Any toy can be dangerous without parental supervision.