What To Do If Your Child Gets An Ear Infection

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Ear infections affect most people at some point in their life, with children most susceptible. Five out of every six children experience an ear infection by age three. In fact, ear infections are the No. 1 reason parents bring their children to the doctor. Being able to determine when your child is fighting an ear infection is key to getting him or her treatment immediately.

IDENTIFYING AN EAR INFECTION

There are few things worse than knowing your infant is in pain, especially when you don’t know what’s wrong. When a baby is feeling bad, he or she will likely demonstrate a change in mood and begin crying more than usual. Unfortunately, this can indicate a number of problems, including an ear infection. To determine if your child is suffering from an ear infection, there are a few telltale signs to look out for.

  • Your baby is unable to swallow or chew or they pull away from the bottle after only a few sips
  • You notice yellow or whitish fluid draining from the ear
  • You detect an unpleasant smell coming from your child’s ear
  • Your child has difficulty sleeping or lying down
  • Your child is suffering from a low grade fever

You should note that ear infections are almost always preceded by a cold. You may notice that your child’s clear runny nose becomes yellow or green as the infection begins to set in.

Because ear infections result in a pus or fluid buildup behind the eardrum, it is not unusual for an infection to result in a ruptured eardrum. If your child’s eardrum has ruptured, you may notice blood or pus draining from the ear. It’s important that you don’t panic. Most ruptured eardrums heal on its on within a few weeks and do not require treatment.

WHEN IT COULD BE SOMETHING ELSE

Although your child may appear to have an ear infection with some of the symptoms above, it is unlikely if he or she has no cold symptoms. If your child is pulling at his or her ears, there is a chance they are simply teething or just like playing with their ears. In fact, babies under the age of one year cannot tell localize their ear pain, so it is impossible for them to identify where the pain is coming from.

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WHAT CAUSES AN EAR INFECTION?

When fluid builds up in the area behind your baby’s eardrum and becomes infected, it can result in an ear infection. Typically, fluid in this area leaves quickly via the Eustachian tube; however, if that tube is blocked, it can cause the fluid to get trapped. Because warm, wet places are often a breeding ground for germs, the fluid can easily get infected. Since babies have shorter Eustachian tubes, they are more likely to develop an infection than adults. As your child’s body works to fight off the infection, he or she may develop a fever.

WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE

As soon as you think your child may have an ear infection, you should call a doctor. A doctor will use an instrument called an otoscope to look into your baby’s ear. If the doctor believes it’s an infection, he or she may use another instrument, a pneumatic otoscope, to further assess whether the ear is actually infected.

HOW AN EAR INFECTION IS TREATED

Once your child has been diagnosed with an ear infection, a doctor will likely prescribe a ten-day treatment that includes antibiotics. One of the most common antibiotics given for ear infections is amoxicillin (sometimes referred to as “the pink stuff”). Your child’s doctor may also prescribe anesthetic eardrops, which numb the eardrum to keep pain at bat for up to two hours.

If you have yet to get your child to the doctor but are certain he or she is suffering from an ear infection, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate pain until you can seek medical care. Try putting several drops of warm olive oil, vegetable oil or garlic oil (make sure the oil isn’t too hot!) and applying a warm washcloth to the ear. Pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are also great to immediately relief pain. (It’s important you reference the dosage guide on the medication.)

If your child does not begin improving within 48-72 hours of antibiotic use, you should return to the doctor for a stronger antibiotic.

HOW TO PREVENT EAR INFECTIONS

Whether your child suffers from chronic ear infections or you simply want to take measures to prevent him or her getting an infection for the first time, below are some great ways to prevent (or at least lessen the severity) ear infections.

  • Boost your child’s immune system: It’s no surprise that feeding your child more fruits and vegetables will help him or her stave off infections. For tips on how to sneak veggies into your child’s food, check out this article.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke: Your baby’s nasal passage can be irritated by smoke leading to Eustachian tube dysfunction.
  • Keep your child’s nose clear: Any time your child gets a runny nose it’s important to keep the nose clear with saline nose drops, suctioning or even by using steam. This will help prevent viruses and bacteria from attaching in your child’s nose.
  • Wash hands frequently: This should go without saying. Washing your hands regularly will prevent germs from spreading to your child, keeping him or her at a lowered risk of catching a cold. Fewer colds also reduces the risk of ear infections.
  • Vaccinate your child: It’s important that you vaccinate your child against the flu each year. You should also have your child get the 13-valent pneumococcal vaccine that protects against additional types of bacterial infection.

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If you believe your child is suffering from an ear infection, rest assured that Medical City Children’s Urgent Care has 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.

 

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When To Introduce Your Child To Technology

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These days it’s impossible to stay away from technology. While it has brought us so many incredible advances in medicine, quality of life, etc., technology has also robbed us of “real life” in many cases. For children growing up in today’s world, it’s important that you ease them into technology slowly. Remind them of the joys of reading, spending time with friends and doing anything that doesn’t involve staring at a screen. If you have a toddler who is already starting to grab at your smartphone or tablet, below are some best practices when introducing your child to technology.

DON’T START TOO EARLY

Many people make the mistake of handing their child an electronic device simply to keep them busy. While most toddlers love to push buttons and swipe the screen on tablets, it does not mean they are ready to actually play with a computer or phone. Most experts recommend you don’t introduce your child to technology until he or she is at least two years old or in preschool. It is crucial that your child experience and interact with the world instead of experiencing everything via a screen.

DON’T MAKE TECHNOLOGY A PACIFIER

It is so easy to absentmindedly hand over your tablet or phone to pacify your child. However, by doing this, you are allowing him or her to not only get what they want any time, but to treat technology as a go-to any time they are bored. It is OK to let your child play with your smart objects from time to time (for instance, on a long plane ride or while waiting in a doctor’s office), but this should be something you think about before doing. Make sure your child is utilizing apps that stimulate his or her brain and try not to allow more than 20 minutes of screen time at any time.

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ENCOURAGE SMART PROGRAMS

When your child is ready to handle technology, it’s a good idea that you find kid-friendly content for him or her to focus on. Do some research on the Internet to determine which programs are meant to be entertaining and which are educational. Many apps will actually include an age range that’s appropriate to make it easier for parents as well. Many iPad and iPhone apps can teach your child educational basics such as math, time, money, geography, music and art.

MAKE SURE YOU MONITOR USAGE

Especially important when your child is young, you should try to be as involved as possible with his or her technology use. Whenever your child downloads a new app or game, engage with your child and ask questions about the app’s content. Have fun with the experience and consider asking your child if you can have a turn on the game or play with the app. This will show your child you approve of kid-friendly apps. However, if you find your child has downloaded an app or game that is inappropriate, explain why you feel this way and delete the program yourself.

KEEP SCREEN TIME LIMITED

Experts suggest no more than half an hour of screen time per sitting for children ages four to five. As children age, that time may be upped to an hour. It’s important that your child does not exceed two hours per sitting. Of course, if he or she is using the device as a productivity tool, it is fine to extend screen time.

For older children, it’s often unavoidable that they spend hours staring at a screen each day. This can result in eye fatigue and strain. Doctors often recommend the 20-20-20 rule, which means that every 20 minutes you should spend 20 seconds staring at something 20 feet away.

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COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CHILD                

As your child gets older, he or she is at risk of cyber bullying. Sadly, cyber bullying can begin as young as middle school. Recent studies have shown that up to 25% of teens are cyber bullied at some point.

Cyber bullying can be very difficult to identify. For example, some kids have stated that fake accounts and websites have been made solely to bully them. It is so important to communicate with your child while he or she is young, stressing to them the importance of cyber behavior. You should also make sure your child feels comfortable talking to you if he or she feels harassed online.

If your child is being harassed online, you may notice he or she appears emotionally upset during or after using the Internet, is extremely protective of his or her digital life, seems withdrawn from friends and family or avoids group gatherings. If you suspect your child is a victim of cyber bullying, let your child know it’s not his or her fault and reassure him or her that you will figure out how to improve the situation together.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Children are prone to pick up on what their parents do. This is where you come into play. If you are glued to your smartphone all day every day, your child will pick up on those habits. Conversely, if you spend time throughout the day enjoying “real life” by reading, hanging out with friends and family, etc., your child will learn to do the same.

This is also a good time for you to assess your personal relationship with technology. Do you scroll through social media sites as you go to bed at night? Do you find yourself distracted during family events because you have to check your phone every few minutes?  Take this time to learn ways you can cut back on your technology use. Perhaps you can shut phones down after dinner each night or allow only an hour a day of computer time at home.

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For more general and health tips for children, continue to check in on the Medical City Children’s Urgent Care blog regularly. Medical City Children’s Urgent Care has 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 Child Free Of The Flu

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It can be tough to tell what is wrong with young children when they’re suffering from an illness. Many sicknesses have very similar symptoms, making it easy to incorrectly diagnose your child. Two of the most easily confusable illnesses are the common cold and the flu. To help determine if your child has come down with the flu, compare the symptoms below:

  • If the onset of your child’s illness was sudden and not slow, there’s a greater chance it’s the flu instead of a cold.
  • A high fever is a strong symptom of the flu. Mild fevers may be symptomatic of something else.
  • A decrease in appetite is a tell tale sign that your child is suffering from the flu.
  • Achy muscles, a headache and chills are also a strong sign of the flu.

Other illnesses that can share similar symptoms include strep throat and pneumonia. If your child begins to have difficulty breathing, begins to seem confused or has a headache that continues to worsen, he or she should be taken to a medical facility immediately.

When young children are suffering from the flu, they will feel sluggish and suffer from fatigue. A doctor will likely recommend your child get plenty of fluids and rest. One way to prevent your child from catching the flu is to take him or her to get a flu vaccine. It’s also a good idea to teach your child to avoid sharing food and drinks with other kids in their class, as this is one of the key ways the flu is spread.

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THE COMMON COLD VERSUS THE FLU

While the initial symptoms can seem very similar, the cold and the flu are two very different illnesses. A cold is more of a mild, respiratory illness, while the flu is something that will keep you down and out for weeks. The flu can also result in complications like pneumonia and hospitalizations. To better understand the difference between the cold and the flu, here are the symptoms you’ll experience.

Symptoms of the cold

  • Sore throat which goes away within two days
  • Nasal symptoms: runny nose and congestion
  • A cough towards the end of the illness
  • Fever is possible, but unlikely

Symptoms of the flu

  • Cold-like symptoms, including sore throat, congestion and cough
  • Muscle aches and soreness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Cold symptoms typically last around a week, with the first three days being the most contagious. During those first few days, it’s important to stay at home. If your cold symptoms persist for more than a week, check with your doctor to determine if you’ve developed an allergy or sinusitis.

For the flu, symptoms are more intense, but last only two to five days. However, because of the intense symptoms, you may feel run down for more than a week. If you begin to notice shortness of breath alongside your flu symptoms, seek medical attention immediately as this could be a sign of pneumonia.

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PREVENTING THE FLU

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.

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.

IS THE FLU SHOT RIGHT FOR YOUR CHILD?

Many people are skeptical about getting the flu shot themselves, let alone taking their child to get one. While there is a remote chance of your child having a negative reaction to the flu shot, the pros far outweigh the cons when it comes to the vaccine. In order to know whether or not the flu shot is right for your child, it’s important to know why the shot is recommended in the first place.

Why Your Child Should Get Vaccinated

The flu is a highly contagious disease that peaks between October and May each year. Typically, the flu is spread by coughing, sneezing and close contact. Symptoms of the flu include fever, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache and runny nose. If your child gets the flu shot, it can:

  • Prevent your child from getting the flu
  • Lessen the severity of the flu if your child gets it
  • Keep your child from spreading the flu to others if he or she gets it

Who Should Not Get The Vaccine?

While the flu shot is beneficial to most people, there are some people who should not get this vaccine. If your child has a severe, life-threatening allergy, he or she should not get vaccinated. Also, if your child is not feeling well, the shot should be delayed temporarily. While this affects very few people, those who have suffered Guillain-Barré Syndrome before should avoid the vaccine all together.

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If you believe your child is suffering from the flu, rest assured that Medical City Children’s Urgent Care has 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.

When Is A Urinary Catheter Needed?

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When hearing the words urinary catheter (often also referred to as a foley catheter), we often relate it to elderly people. However, there are instances where a young child may need a urinary catheter. While it isn’t the most pleasant thing to imagine for your child, it can be necessary. Read below to see when your child may need a urinary catheter.

WHAT IS A URINARY CATHETER

A soft, thin flexible tube, a urinary catheter is placed into the bladder to help drain urine. This can either be done in an operating room, exam room or hospital room.

WHEN IS A URINARY CATHETER NEEDED

If your child has recently undergone surgery, suffered an injury or developed a sickness that prevents him or her from getting up to use the restroom, a catheter may be needed. Some medication may also cause your child to have difficulty emptying his or her bladder, which would require a catheter.

In some cases, a urinary tract infection is suspected and the child is too young to provide a specimen. In this situation, a catheter may be gently inserted in order to obtain a specimen for urinalysis and urine culture.

In rare instances, your child’s doctor may need to measure exactly how much urine your child passes, which can be done through the use of a catheter.

HOW A CATHETER IS PLACED

If your child needs a urine catheter, he or she will lie on an exam table or hospital bed while a doctor prepares to insert the catheter. On one end of the catheter is a balloon, while the other end has two ports that are use to inflate the balloon and collect the urine. A doctor will use a lubricant to help slide the catheter in as painlessly as possible.

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If you believe your child needs a urinary catheter, rest assured that Medical City Children’s Urgent Care has 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.

5 Holiday Volunteer Opportunities For Kids

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The holidays can be a wonderful time to spoil your children with all the gifts they’ve been wanting throughout the year. However, it can also be a great time to teach them the power of volunteering and helping others. The holidays are a great time to take your child to a food bank, assisted living home, etc. since they are often off school for several weeks at the end of the year. If you are looking for volunteer opportunities for your child, consider the following options.

  1. Work at a food pantry: Not only can you donate food items to your local food pantry, you can also have your child help volunteer at the shelter. Many food shelters need help stocking the pantry, organizing items and even helping to check out customers. This is a great way for your child to learn the value of helping those less fortunate
  2. Visit a nursing home: Having your child spend time at a nursing home is a mutually beneficial way to volunteer. Many of the elderly people living at the assisted living homes look forward to having young kids to spend time with and your children will learn how to interact with those that are older than them. Consider having your child make holiday cards for those at the nursing home and hand deliver the cards right before the holidays.
  3. Deliver meals: If you have time a couple days before the holidays or even on the day of, delivering meals is a great way to volunteer. There are many local charity food services that are always looking for people who can hand deliver hot meals and companionship to those in need.
  4. Visit an animal shelter: The animals at the local animal shelter are desperate for affection and attention. If your child is an animal lover, consider visiting your local animal shelter. Whether you take the animals on a walk or clean up dirty litter boxes, any bit of help will be much appreciated.
  5. Clean up outside: Find a local park or simply walk through your neighborhood picking up trash with your child. When you do this, it’s important you and your child wear gloves and that you supervise your child closely to ensure nothing dangerous is picked up.

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For more 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.

Promoting Healthy Digestion in Your Little One

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If your child seems to have an unhappy belly, look more closely at the balance of fiber, fluid and exercise in his/her daily regimen. Children need these three essentials in their diet in order to promote a healthy digestive system. It may not be simple to find something they like in all categories, but there are some great options to persuade them in the nutritious direction.

The average child, depending on age, needs between 19-38 grams of fiber per day. This can be found in whole wheat bread or English muffins, baked potatoes (with skin), apples and pear (with peels) or berries with seeds, especially raspberries. If your child is constipated, then avoid white bread, cheeses and rice cereal.

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This fiber intake needs to be matched with healthy amounts of water, plus a daily allotment of milk. Without fluid, fiber becomes clogged inside the body. The majority of liquid consumed by your little one each day should be water. Four ounces of juice is recommended for toddlers and six to eight ounces of juice for school-age children.

Exercise is the final key factor in ensuring a healthy digestive track for young children. Encouraging 60-90 minutes of play each day will help keep their digestive systems running smoothly. Just remember to keep up with how often they use the restroom while active. Children “holding it in” can lead to extra constipation issues.

For a reference scale on how much fiber your child should be eating each day, check out Super Kids Nutrition.

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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. 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.

Choosing Safe Toys

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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.

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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.

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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.