Emory Report

 December 1, 1997

 Volume 50, No. 14


Age-appropriate toys keep
holidays safe for children

Traffic is picking up. The malls are getting crowded. The holiday season is upon us. Once again, it is time to hit the stores for gift shopping. And, once again, the child safety experts at Egleston Hospital are encouraging parents to examine thoroughly any gift purchases for children.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that in 1993 there were over 113,000 children under age 14 treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries. In 1994, the Child Safety Protection Act, which requires manufacturers to place warning labels on toys with small parts that might pose a choking hazard to young children, was signed into law.

The National SAFE KIDS Campaign, the first and only national organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury, offers the following toy safety guide for age-appropriate toys:

Infants to 1-year-olds: As babies learn to reach, roll over and sit up, they are at increased risk for suffocation. The most suitable toys for the first year include activity quilts, stuffed animals without button noses and eyes, bath toys, soft dolls, baby swings and squeaky toys.

1- to 2-year-old toddlers: Children this age are curious and have no sense of danger. They like to climb, jump, throw and play rough-and-tumble games. Supervision is important and the best toys for this age group are books, blocks, fit-together toys, balls, push-and-pull toys, pounding toys and shape toys.

2- to 5-year-old preschoolers: As any parent of a preschooler can tell you, these children spend much of their time running. They like tests of physical strength and begin to develop skills such as riding a tricycle, increasing finger control and the ability to build with large blocks and construction materials. Toys that are most suitable for them include approved nontoxic art supplies, books, videos, musical instruments and outdoor toys such as t-ball stands, slides or swings.

5- to 9-year-olds: In the early part of this age group children become creative and more physically active. They can write, make arts and crafts, and are able to use simple mechanical toys such as cars and trains. Recommended toys include bicycles, crafts, jump ropes, roller skates and protective gear, puppets, electric trains and sports equipment. Check tape recorders and battery-operated toys regularly for loose or exposed wires.

10- to 14-year-olds: Children this age enjoy team sports and games that require increased dexterity such as pick-up sticks, marbles and jacks. Strenuous physical activity is also popular for this age group. Children begin to develop hobbies and a strong interest in scientific activities. For these children, the most appropriate gifts are computers, microscopes, table and board games, and equipment used in outdoor sports.

Whether you are buying toys for your own children or for family and friends, this partial list of age-appropriate toys should get you on your way to a safe and fun holiday season.

For information regarding SAFE KIDS of Georgia, call Laura Fairleigh at (404) 325-6351. "Wellness" is coordinated by the Seretean Center for Health Promotion at the Rollins School. Have a topic you'd like to read or write about? Call 727-2853 or send an e-mail message to lteach@sph.emory.edu.

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