December 6, 2022

Toy safety a key to injury-free gift-giving holiday for kids

Madison, Wis. – As the holiday season approaches, parents will be buying toys for kids of all ages and UW Health Kids experts want to ensure it is a safe and happy season for all.

In 2021, nearly 122,000 children younger than 15 years of age in the United States were seen in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries such as choking or cuts from broken toys. Almost 60% of those children were under the age of 5, according to Safe Kids Worldwide (pdf).

Toys are part of childhood, and important family memories are made while opening presents during the holidays, but the last place a family wants to spend the holiday is in the emergency department because of a toy-related injury, according to Dr. Nicholas Kuehnel, pediatric emergency medicine physician, UW Health Kids, and assistant professor of emergency medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

“The most important things parents or guardians can do is to make sure toys are age-appropriate, keep an eye on the child and look out for broken toys,” Kuehnel said.

Tips for toy safety from UW Health Kids and Safe Kids Worldwide

  • Consider a child’s age when purchasing a toy or game

  • Read the instruction carefully to assemble and use toys correctly

  • Watch for small pieces, especially button batteries, that may be included in electronic toys. These are meant for older kids, but they can pose a choking hazard to younger, curious relatives.

  • Check to make sure there are not any sharp edges, small parts or other potential choking hazards before purchasing a toy. For kids younger than 3 years of age, toys that involve small balls, magnets or marbles should be avoided as they can cause issues if accidentally ingested.

  • Use a bin or container to store toys when kids are done playing.

  • Bikes, scooters or skateboards can be great gifts, but make sure to pair these gifts with protective gear such as a helmet and wrist guards.

  • Toys that have a projectile such as a foam dart should never be aimed at other people’s faces as they can cause eye injuries.

  • Home chemistry sets should be used under supervision and can contain chemicals or reactions that could be irritating to the skin.