Why should you pay attention? Because in 2011, there were about 262,300 toy-related injuries treated in US hospital emergency departments. That’s right…more than a quarter million injuries. And every year this number gets a little higher.
The truth is most of the injuries were preventable.
To make toy safety easier to follow, several years ago I created an acronym that I’ve shared with my patients and Toddler 411 book fans. It might sound silly, but it works. Remember ELF STEW.
E: Electrical toys. These toys can cause electrical shocks or burns. Opt for battery-powered toys.
L: Loud noises.Some toys will be “intended for outdoor use only”. This is secret code that means this toy is REALLY LOUD. For kids, prolonged exposure to sounds at 85 decibels or higher can cause hearing damage. Several toys exceed 100 decibels when they are measured at close range.
F: Flying objects.These items may accidentally fly into a child’s eye or head and cause injury.
S: Sharp edges. Poorly made toys may have hard pieces of plastic or pins that stick out, which can cause cuts and abrasions.
T: Tiny parts.Young children will swallow small toy pieces, creating a choking hazard. Or, they may put them in other interesting body parts like the nose or ears. A good rule to follow: If the toy is smaller than the diameter of a toilet paper roll, it is too small to be in your toddler’s house.
E: Emotional hazards. Violent videos or games can have a significant emotional impact on your child. Snow White’s evil stepmother can be pretty darn scary to a toddler.
W: Wrong toy for the age of the child. Even if your child is a prodigy, it’s a good idea to follow the intended-age use for a product.
Good luck and stay safe. Click here for more toy safety info from the AAP.
Ari Brown, MD