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Consider safety when buying children's toys
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Parents today are keenly aware of safety concerns when it comes to purchasing gifts for their children, but grandparents and other gift-givers may not be.
To avoid giving a gift that is unsafe or not age-appropriate, Mississippi State University Extension Service child and family development specialist Louise Davis recommends shoppers pay attention to details.
"It's the little things that count when choosing toys or other gifts for young children," Davis said. "Although an item may be fun, it's important to consider the child's age, abilities, interests and, most importantly, their safety."
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provides an exhaustive list of toys and other items at http://www.cpsc.gov that have been recalled for safety concerns. Consumers can avoid potentially deadly accidents by checking the list to make sure an item has not been recalled.
Paying attention to the age-appropriateness indicator found on most toys can ensure children have fun while avoiding potential dangers. Toys designed for children 3 years and older are not suitable for younger children because they often include small parts that pose a choking hazard.
"Another thing to consider is that toys typically are designed to stimulate a child's social, emotional and intellectual development," Davis explained. "So purchasing a toy that is designed for a much younger or older child than the recipient will probably bore the child because it is either too basic or too advanced."
Davis offered the following guidelines when choosing toys for children:
For children under 3 years of age, make sure all toy pieces are larger than the end of a toilet paper tube. Avoid toys that have sharp edges and points.
Look for sturdy construction on plush toys, including tightly secured eyes, noses and other small parts.
Do not allow children to play with plastic wrappings on toys because they pose a suffocation hazard.
Choose toys that foster creative play and require decision-making, and make sure children have a wide variety of toys for all of their developing needs. "Kid-powered" toys are better than those that require batteries, which can be undependable and costly.
When giving gifts like bicycles, skates and skateboards, include safety equipment like helmets and kneepads.
"Keeping safety in mind during the gift-giving season will ensure that everyone enjoys the holiday time together without worrying about tragic accidents," Davis said.