Choosing Safe Toys

iStock-589961490.jpg

Millions of toys are out there, and hundreds of new ones hit the stores each year. Toys are supposed to be fun and are an important part of any child’s development. But each year, scores of kids are treated in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries.

Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when shopping for toys:

  • Toys made of fabric should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Stuffed toys should be washable.
  • Painted toys should be covered with lead-free paint.
  • Art materials should say nontoxic.
  • Crayons and paints should say ASTM D-4236 on the package, which means that they’ve been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

Steer clear of older toys, even hand-me-downs from friends and family. Those toys might have sentimental value and are certainly cost-effective, but they may not meet current safety standards and may be so worn from play that they can break and become hazardous.

And make sure a toy isn’t too loud for your child. The noise of some rattles, squeak toys, and musical or electronic toys can be as loud as a car horn — even louder if a child holds it directly to the ears — and can contribute to hearing damage.

The right toys at the right ages

Always read labels to make sure a toy is appropriate for a child’s age. Guidelines published by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and other groups can help you make those buying decisions. Still, use your own best judgment — and consider your child’s temperament, habits and behavior whenever you buy a new toy.

You may think that a child who’s advanced in comparison to peers can handle toys meant for older kids. But the age levels for toys are determined by safety factors, not intelligence or maturity.

Here are some age-specific guidelines to keep in mind:

For infants, toddlers, and preschoolers

  • Toys should be large enough — at least 1¼ inches (3 centimeters) in diameter and 2¼ inches (6 centimeters) in length — so that they can’t be swallowed or lodged in the windpipe. A small-parts tester, or choke tube, can determine if a toy is too small. These tubes are designed to be about the same diameter as a child’s windpipe. If an object fits inside the tube, then it’s too small for a young child. If you can’t find a choke tube, a toilet paper roll can be used for the same purpose.
  • Avoid marbles, coins, balls, and games with balls that are 1.75 inches (4.4 centimeters) in diameter or less because they can become lodged in the throat above the windpipe and restrict breathing.
  • Battery-operated toys should have battery cases that secure with screws so that kids cannot pry them open. Batteries and battery fluid pose serious risks, including choking, internal bleeding, and chemical burns.
  • When checking a toy for a baby or toddler, make sure it’s unbreakable and strong enough to withstand chewing. Also, make sure it doesn’t have:
    • sharp ends or small parts like eyes, wheels, or buttons that can be pulled loose
    • small ends that can extend into the back of the mouth
    • strings longer than 7 inches (18 centimeters)
    • parts that could become pinch points for small fingers
  • Most riding toys can be used once a child is able to sit up well while unsupported – but check with the manufacturer’s recommendation. Riding toys like rocking horses and wagons should come with safety harnesses or straps and be stable and secure enough to prevent tipping.
  • Stuffed animals and other toys that are sold or given away at carnivals, fairs and in vending machines are not required to meet safety standards. Check carnival toys carefully for loose parts and sharp edges before giving them to your infant.

iStock_000024519540_Medium.jpg

For grade-schoolers

  • Bicycles, scooters, skateboards and inline skates should never be used without helmets that meet current safety standards and other recommended safety gear, like hand, wrist and shin guards. Look for CPSC or Snell certification on the labels.
  • Nets should be well constructed and firmly attached to the rim so that they don’t become strangulation hazards.
  • Toy darts or arrows should have soft tips or suction cups at the end, not hard points.
  • Toy guns should be brightly colored so they cannot be mistaken for real weapons, and kids should be taught to never point darts, arrows or guns at anyone.
  • BB guns or pellet rifles should not be given to kids under the age of 16.
  • Electric toys should be labeled UL, meaning they meet safety standards set by Underwriters Laboratories.

Keeping toys safe at home

After you’ve bought safe toys, it’s also important to make sure kids know how to use them. The best way to do this is by supervising play. Playing with your kids teaches them how to play safely while having fun!

Parents should:

  • Teach kids to put toys away.
  • Check toys regularly to make sure that they aren’t broken or unusable:
    • Wooden toys shouldn’t have splinters.
    • Bikes and outdoor toys shouldn’t have rust.
    • Stuffed toys shouldn’t have broken seams or exposed removable parts.
  • Throw away broken toys or repair them right away.
  • Store outdoor toys when they’re not in use so that they are not exposed to rain or snow.

And be sure to keep toys clean. Some plastic toys can be cleaned in the dishwasher, but read the manufacturer’s directions first. Another option is to mix antibacterial soap or a mild dishwashing detergent with hot water in a spray bottle and use it to clean toys, rinsing them afterward.

Reporting unsafe toys

Check the CPSC website for the latest information about toy recalls or call their hotline at (800) 638-CPSC to report a toy you think is unsafe. If you have any doubt about a toy’s safety, err on the side of caution and do not allow your child to play with it.

iStock-475067169.jpg

For more fun holiday and health tips for children, continue to check in on the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care blog. Medical City Children’s Urgent Care is a kid-friendly medical facility dedicated to providing children the best possible care. We have pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

This content originally appeared on KidsHealth.org

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

Advertisements

Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Side Dishes

iStock_79580381_MEDIUM.jpg

On Thanksgiving Day, most people think of overeating. However, if you have a picky child, they could do the opposite. Some of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes like green bean casserole, potato salad and stuffing may not be appetizing to a young child. By taking the time to prepare a few kid-friendly dishes, you increase the chance your child will enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.

GET THE KIDS INVOLVED

When thinking through what dishes your child would enjoy this Thanksgiving, get him or her involved in the process. If your child is included in the cooking process, he or she is much more likely to eat the dish. This is also a great way to connect with your child and teach them the value of a healthy (yet tasty) side dish.

Thanksgiving.jpg

SURVEY YOUR CURRENT DISHES

Some of the dishes you already make on Thanksgiving may be turned into kid-friendly dishes with just a few slight tweaks. For instance, a standard broccoli dish can be morphed into cheesy rice with broccoli with very few additional steps and your child will likely go crazy for it. Brussels sprouts are another example. By themselves, they are not that appetizing to children. However, throw in some cranberries and a balsamic glaze and they take on an entirely different taste.

DON’T OVERTHINK IT

Many parents can get too worried their child won’t eat a single thing on the table. There is so much going on Thanksgiving Day, it shouldn’t be an extra stress on you to find dishes for your child to eat. Sit down before you create your grocery list and learn what your child may want to add to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. You never know—they may add a dish they becomes a staple for years to come! Here is a list of kid-friendly Thanksgiving side dishes that may be helpful.

iStock_103022683_LARGE.jpg

For more fun holiday and health tips for children, continue to check in on the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care blog. Medical City Children’s Urgent Care is a kid-friendly medical facility dedicated to providing children the best possible care. We have pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

Why is hand-washing so important?

Why is hand-washing so important_pediatrics (4).jpg

Kids don’t always listen when parents tell them to wash their hands before eating, after using the bathroom or when they come inside from playing. But it’s a message worth repeating: Hand-washing is by far the best way to keep kids from getting sick and prevent the spread of germs.

How do germs spread?

Germs can spread many ways, including:

  • touching dirty hands
  • changing dirty diapers
  • through contaminated water and food
  • through droplets in the air released during a cough or sneeze
  • on contaminated surfaces
  • through contact with a sick person’s body fluids

When kids come into contact with germs, they can become infected just by touching their eyes, nose or mouth. Once they’re infected, it’s usually just a matter of time before the whole family comes down with the same illness.

Kids_WashingHands.jpg

How do clean hands help health?

Good hand-washing is the first line of defense against the spread of many illnesses – from the common cold to more serious infections, such as meningitis, bronchiolitis, the flu, hepatitis A and many types of diarrhea.

What’s the best way to wash hands?

Here’s how to scrub those germs away. Teach this to your kids, or wash your hands together often so they learn how important this good habit is:

  1. Wash your hands in warm water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot for little hands.
  2. Use soap and lather up for about 20 seconds. Antibacterial soap isn’t necessary – any soap will do.
  3. Make sure you get in between the fingers and under the nails where germs like to hang out. And don’t forget the wrists!
  4. Rinse and dry well with a clean towel.

When should kids wash their hands?

To stop the spread of germs in your family, make regular hand washing a rule for everyone, especially:

  • Before eating and cooking
  • After using the bathroom
  • After cleaning around the house
  • After touching animals, including family pets
  • Before and after visiting or taking care of any sick friends or relatives
  • After blowing one’s nose, coughing or sneezing
  • After being outside (playing, gardening, walking the dog, etc.)

Don’t underestimate the power of hand-washing! The few seconds you spend at the sink could save you trips to the doctor’s office.

YouTube_Cover.jpg

For more health tips for children, continue to check in on the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care blog. Medical City Children’s Urgent Care is a kid-friendly medical facility dedicated to providing children the best possible care.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

What To Do If Your Child Swallows A Foreign Object

DocChildThroat.jpgWhile most moms like to think they have eyes in the back of their head, it can be difficult to keep track of your child every second of every day. Because infants and toddlers are naturally curious, they tend to put various items in their mouths, putting them at high risk for swallowing a foreign object. In some instances, your child may be able to pass the object; however, some cases may require surgery.

THE RISK

The majority of people that swallow foreign objects are under the age of 3. Infants and toddlers left unsupervised are at an increased risk. It’s important to keep the following objects out of the reach of children under the age of 3:

  • Coins
  • Small batteries
  • Buttons
  • Marbles
  • Rocks
  • Nails
  • Screws
  • Pins
  • Small magnets

Boys_Bugs.jpg

IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM

The most common symptoms that can help you know if your child has swallowed a foreign object are choking, difficulty breathing, coughing and wheezing. If the object has already passed onto the digestive tract, there may be no immediate symptoms. If the item has become lodged in the esophagus or bowel, your child may experience vomiting, drooling, gagging, chest or throat pain, refusal to eat, abdominal pain and fever.

TREATING THE PROBLEM

If your child is unable to breath because the foreign object has blocked the airway, emergency treatment is necessary. You may be able to remove the object by using back blows, the Heimlich maneuver, or CPR. If you suspect a battery has been swallowed, your child should be seen immediately. Batteries can cause erosion of the wall of the GI tract and will need to be removed.

If the object appears to be swallowed completely with no choking necessary, you may be able to wait for it to pass naturally. If the foreign object is causing pain or damage to the bowels, surgery may be needed.

YouTube_Cover.jpg

If your child has swallowed a foreign object that needs to be removed immediately, consider visiting Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. We have pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.

How To Keep Your Kids Flu-Free This Season

Parent with sick child.jpg

Everyone enjoys the cooling temps, fall foliage and approaching holidays; however, the ensuing flu season is not nearly as welcome. Kids who are in school or daycare are at a much higher risk of catching the flu than those that stay at home. To ensure your child stays healthy this flu season, there are some tips you can keep in mind.

GET YOUR CHILD VACCINATED

Although the vaccine is not 100% successful in preventing the flu (according to the latest numbers, it is actually 62% effective), it can certainly reduce your child’s chance of getting sick. Even if your child does end up with the flu, the vaccine can help shorten the illness and keep symptoms mild.

TEACH THEM GOOD ETIQUETTE

Because the flu can spread as much as 6 feet when a child coughs or sneezes, it’s important that your child covers their mouth and nose with a tissue. Make sure your child knows to throw the tissue away afterward and to then wash their hands.

DoctorChild.jpg

KEEP EVERYTHING CLEAN

This probably sounds impossible with a child, but it’s smart to wipe down toys, handles, counter tables, phones and TV remotes regularly. The flu virus can live up to 8 hours on surfaces, so keeping everything in your home as clean as possible will prevent it from spreading. Hot soapy water or a cleaning product works best.

DIET, EXERCISE AND REST

One of the best ways your child can stay flu-free this season is to eat right, exercise daily and get enough rest each night. For school-age children, adequate rest is at least 10 hours, while toddlers need a minimum of 12 hours each night. Your children’s diet should include plenty of fruits, vegetable, milk and water. Also, it’s important your child gets at least an hour of physical activity each day.

YouTube_Cover.jpg

If your child has not had his or her flu shot, consider visiting Medical City Children’s Urgent Care. We have pediatricians that are board certified, offer convenient access to the expert care you need right when you need it and are even open after hours or on the weekend.

Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.