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Pick gifts for kids with care

December is a time when many children get new toys as Christmas gifts. But not all toys are right for all children. When buying gifts for children, make sure toys are safe and appropriate for the age of the children using them.

Here are some toy-buying suggestions that will make your child's holidays safer and happier.

-Read any warning labels carefully. These labels usually carry recommendations about the minimum appropriate age for a given toy. The labels also tell what precautions should be taken when using the toy. Make sure to follow those recommendations. Some toys and games that are fun for older children may not be appropriate for younger children.

-Beware of choking hazards. Infants and small children need special consideration. Don't buy toys for children under the age of three that have cords or strings because they can become wrapped around the child's neck. Avoid toys with small parts that can be removed and present a choking hazard. Infants and toddlers explore by putting things in their mouths. Any toy that can fit inside a cardboard toilet paper tube is small enough to be a choking hazard. Deflated balloons can also cause a child to choke. If you have children under 3 years old, make sure toys and games with small pieces are kept well out of their reach.

-Choose toys that are easy to clean. Children's toys should be either machine washable or made of hard, sturdy materials such as plastic or wood. Toys need to be machine washed or cleaned regularly in a solution of bleach and water to remove germs.

-Choose fabric toys with care. Stuffed toys should be flame-retardant or nonflammable. Make sure eyes and other parts are stitched on securely. Squeakers and rattles should be securely attached so that children cannot remove them.

-Look for sturdy, well-constructed toys without sharp edges. Make sure toys are sturdy enough that they will not splinter or break with normal use. And be aware that some plastic toys become brittle with age.

-Check art materials carefully. Read the labels on crayons, paints, clay and other material to be sure they are not poisonous if put in the mouth. Look for the words "nontoxic." And look for materials marked "washable." They are easier to wash off hands, faces, clothing, and furniture.

-Finally, never rely on someone else to determine which toys are safe for your children.

Have a Merry Christmas and safe holidays!



Web posted on Thursday, December 16, 2004











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