6 Dangerous Holiday Toys to Avoid: Parents Take These Picks Off Your Shopping List

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Cory Showalter, MD, an emergency room physician at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, explains which gifts are most likely to cause your child injury.


How safe are toys on your child’s wish list this Christmas? Cory Showalter, MD, an emergency room physician at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, explains which gifts are most likely to cause your child injury.

1.  Trampolines. The risk of injury from trampolines is so great that the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend them for children of any age. “We see patients with broken bones and head and neck injuries, even if the trampoline they were on had a surrounding safety net,” says Dr. Showalter. (That’s because most trampoline injuries occur on the trampoline itself and not from falling off it.) “In fact, trampolines with nets may give kids a false sense of safety, so they jump even higher, increasing their risk of injury,” he adds.

2. Projectile toys. This includes BB guns as well as guns and pull-back toys with soft projectiles. “Nerf-type guns, for instance, can still be dangerous because some generate a lot of force when you shoot them, so if a child is hit in the eye at close range, even a soft projectile can cause a lot of damage,” says Dr. Showalter.

3. Hoverboards. Following a number of instances of hoverboards catching fire, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that no one should use a hoverboard that doesn’t meet the electrical safety standards set by the UL (Underwriters Laboratories.) If you do decide to buy your child a UL-certified hoverboard, make sure you buy a helmet and padding as well, says Dr. Showalter.

4. Toys that contain button batteries or magnets. Both can be extremely harmful if ingested. “Button batteries can cause burns or tissue damage in a matter of minutes if your child swallows them or sticks them in their nose or ear,” says Dr. Showalter. Magnets, when ingested, can cause serious damage to your child’s intestines when they stick together.

5. Flimsier items and those with points or sharper edges. Kids can fall on objects and harm themselves. And even if a toy didn’t have any sharp edges the day you bought it, you should consider its long term durability, says Dr. Showalter: “For instance, if a toy is flimsy or contains glass, it could break or splinter and cut or puncture your child’s skin later on.”

6. Items with small parts. These are most hazardous for kids age 3 and under, who are prone to putting things in their mouth. “If a toy or toy part is small enough to fit through a toilet paper tube, it can get lodged in your child’s windpipe,” Dr. Showalter says. Even a toy’s packaging can be dangerous for young kids. “I’ve seen patients who swallowed the twist ties that hold toys in place in the box,” he says. Be sure to dispose of packaging promptly when your child opens his gifts to avoid injuries.

-- By Jessica Brown

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