Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Urges Caution in Toy Selection This Holiday Season

The holidays are ramping up, and toys are a top topic. 

And with a boom in online shopping due to COVID-19, injury prevention advocates want to raise awareness about the need for gift-givers to be more mindful of online toy purchases.  

“This year, as more folks are avoiding crowds in an effort to comply with the safety regulations amid the pandemic, online shopping is a safe option, but there are a few challenges. It is even more important that shoppers be mindful of safety, potential hazards and recalls,” Purnima Unni, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program manager at Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. 

“Gifting is a bit more difficult when shoppers are not able to inspect a toy at the time of purchase. Some items may not include some of the safety warnings and hazards, especially in regards to age.  

“It’s imperative that we raise awareness about the need to choose age-appropriate toys for young children and the need to thoroughly examine the item prior to gifting. Good toys for young children need to match their stages of development and emerging abilities.”  

When buying riding toys, remember to also gift safety equipment like a helmet, she urged.  

Unni said several children are treated in the emergency department each year for toy-related injuries.  

Nationally, there was an estimated 224,200 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries in 2019; 73% happened to children 14 years of age or younger, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) which reported 14 toy-related deaths that calendar year.  

Unni urges gift-givers to be mindful of the following critical safety tips:  

  • Check the label. Follow age guidance and other safety information on packaging. (Age grading is based on safety concerns and on the developmental appropriateness for children.)
  • Avoid toys with small parts, as well as marbles and small balls, for children under age 3.
  • Get safety gear. With scooters and other riding toys, be sure to include helmets. Helmets should be worn properly at all times, and they should be sized to fit.
  • Ensure that stuffed toys have age-appropriate features such as embroidered or secured eyes and noses for younger children and seams that are reinforced to withstand an older child’s play.
  • Be careful with magnets. High-powered magnet sets are a safety risk. Children can swallow loose magnets, causing serious intestinal injuries.
  • Know your seller. Purchase toys from retailers you know and trust. 

More safety tips are available on the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt website at: https://www.vumc.org/injuryprevention/safety-topics