HERSHEY, Pa. — After the stress of the past year, there's nothing we need more than joy and happiness around the holidays. What is more joyful than watching children open up presents?
Whichever holiday you celebrate, Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, you want to have fun, and more importantly, you want your children to be safe.
Amy Bollinger, director for pediatric trauma at Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey, says parents need to be extra cautious when buying toys for their children.
"Age-appropriate toys are of the utmost importance," Bollinger said. "Choking hazards are a real thing, especially for younger children. The younger the child, the greater the choking risk. So we want to be sure that toys are developmentally appropriate."
According to the National Institute of Health, choking is the number one cause of death in children under 4-years-old.
Bollinger says, when shopping for toys, parents needs to be aware of warning labels and age recommendations. The website safekids.org also offers safety tips for toy purchases. Also, make sure you buy your toys from a place you're familiar with and trust.
Another home hack way to test toys is by taking a paper towel or toilet paper roll. If the toy fits through the tube, like LEGOs or marbles, they are not safe for kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics says choking hazards are most prevalent in children up to 5-years-old.
"Kids are curious, babies and small children are curious, and they reach for things and they don’t understand the danger," Bollinger said.
Bollinger warns parents to be extra cautious with toys that are passed down from previous generations, because the rules and oversight of toy inspection has changed over the last 30 to 40 years. Also, she says to be wary of toys being sold secondhand, because you don't know if those toys have been recalled or compromised.
Lastly, before the new toys come in, Bollinger suggests going through the old toys and cleaning house.
"If there is a toy space, get on your hands and knees and go through those toys," she said. "If they are broken, throw them out."