Micah Ryan. M.D.
Agriculturalists have the Farmer’s Almanac and journalists have the AP Stylebook, but this is for you, parents – Santa’s Safe Gift Guide: tips and tidbits for a happy and safe gift-giving season.
Abide by the age levels recommended on toys. This label is not developed based on the concept of intelligence, but rather the stage that the child is at in developmental terms. For example, young children tend to put everything they can get their hands on in their mouths; therefore, toys with small parts are considered inappropriate for them. It can be easy to forget, but video games have recommended age levels as well. Games such as Call of Duty or HALO are rated M, which means that the game is not suitable for children 16 and under.
Age recommendations should be available for both in-store and online shopping.
Do not forget to consider the younger sibling who is excited to play with big sibling’s toys as well.
When deciding if a toy has parts that are too small, it may be helpful to have a small parts tester, a tube that is approximately the size of a young child’s throat. If the toy fits completely in the device, it is too small for a child under the age of 3. If you don’t have a small parts tester handy, a toilet paper tube is a close reference or measuring 1 ¾ inches.
When picking a gift, be sure to check out the Consumer Safety Protection Commission (CSPC) to confirm that it is not on the recall list. Keep in mind that even if it is, there may be a remedy or replacement provided by the toy company to make the toy safe to give as a gift.