This season, choose toys that will make the holiday season a safe one. Toys should be a source of fun and learning for children. Too often toys with poor design, toys that are too old for a child, or a toy in bad repair can lead to serious, even fatal injuries. When choosing a toy, make sure to match the toy to the child's abilities. A toy that is too advanced or too simple for a child may be misused, which can lead to injury.

Keep in mind these handy tips when shopping for holiday toys:

• Think BIG when choosing toys. All toy parts should be larger than the child's mouth to prevent choking and other injuries.
• NEVER give any toy with small parts to a child under three, and keep small parts away from older children who still put toys in their mouths.
• Make sure small parts of larger toys cannot break off.
• Keep deflated or broken balloons away from children. If suddenly inhaled, they can cause suffocation.
• Read the instructions before buying a toy. Look for labels that give age recommendations and use that information as a guide.
• Hold noisemaking toys next to your own ear to determine whether it will be too loud for a young child.
• Look for sturdy toy construction. The eyes, nose and other small parts on soft toys and stuffed animals should be securely fastened.
• Avoid toys with sharp edges.
• Ensure that tips of arrows and darts are blunt, made of soft rubber or plastic, and securely fastened to the shaft.
• Reserve hobby kits, such as chemistry sets, for a child older than 12. Provide proper supervision for children ages 12 to 15.

For information on recent recalls and product safety news, visit:

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,

American Academy of Pediatrics,

Page last updated Thu December 1st, 2011 at 00:00