Discerning Gift-Givers Look for Toys That Offer More Than Fun

Some of the best choices spur imagination and exercise, experts say

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In terms of toy safety, Gardner and Hoffman emphasized a few key points:

  • Keep choking hazards in mind, particularly for young children and with toys that have small parts. Use a toilet paper tube as a guide: If a piece can fit through the tube, the toy isn't appropriate for small children.
  • Be careful when giving toys that contain small magnets. If more than one is swallowed, the magnets can stick together in the digestive tract and cause tearing of the bowel wall, Gardner said.
  • Toys that shoot missiles or other objects are prime hazards for eye injuries.
  • Be aware that costume jewelry and other low-cost toys can contain lead, particularly if they are imported from another country.
  • Toys with small batteries also should be approached with caution. Tiny lithium batteries can be swallowed and lodge in the esophagus, where they pass a current through the moist membranes. "It actually burns a hole through the esophagus in a two-hour time frame," Gardner said.

More information

To learn more about choosing safe toys, visit the Nemours Foundation.

To read a toy expert's advice for selecting a gift, click here.

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