December 12, 2002 at 8:57 PM EST - Updated June 18 at 7:41 AM
Toys top the wish list of children during the holiday season. But before buying the latest play item, parents must work on following proper safety guidelines. Statistics list the annual cost of toy-related injuries to children 4-years-old and under at $385 million. Gift suggestions from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center based on age, interests, and skill levels include:
Zero to 1-year-olds explore with the eyes, hands, and mouth crib gyms floor activity centers activity quilts squeaky toys soft dolls or stuffed animals
One to 3-year-olds climb, jump, walk, throw, and play rough and tumble games soft blocks large blocks push and pull toys books pounding and shaping toys
Three to 5-year-olds hold active imaginations and like toys as close companions nontoxic art supplies pretend toys (play money, telephone) teddy bears or dolls outdoor toys (tricycle and a helmet)
Five to 9-year-olds like challenges that teach specific skills and concepts art and craft kits puppets jump ropes action figures miniature dolls
Nine to 14-year-olds develop lifelong skills, hobbies, and enjoy team and individual sports handheld electronic games board games sports equipment with protective gear model kits musical instruments
The Child Safety Protection Act requires choking hazard warning labels on packaging for small toys or parts intended for use by children ages 3 to 6.
"Children under five years - and especially those under three years - are particularly vulnerable to airway obstruction due to small upper airways, inexperience with chewing, and a natural tendency to put everything in their mouths," said emergency physician Michael Gittelman.
Parents may purchase a "choke tube" to check for hazards on small toys. An object that fits entirely within the plastic cylinder, approximating the size of a child's airway, poses as a risk.
Riding toys, including unpowered scooters, lead the league in injuries. The National SAFE KIDS Coalition reported more than 26,000 in 2000. Death may occur when a child collides with a motor vehicle, or rides into a body of water or down the stairs. The majority of riding toy-related injuries occurs from falls.