Here’s a heads-up for parents who are doing some toy shopping: according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a lot of the toys on your kid’s wish list could be dangerous. And every year they release their “Trouble in Toyland” list. If you want the complete list – which names specific toys – you can download it on your phone from www.ToySafety.MOBI. But generally speaking, here’s what to watch out for:
- Stick with age-appropriate toys. Even if your toddler’s smarter than an 8-year-old, they’re too young to understand how dangerous their actions can be. And they can still choke on small parts, like marbles or doll shoes, or get tangled in cords, like the ones on pull-toys.
- Make sure your kids can’t get at the batteries – especially the button-types in things like light-up shoes, and musical greeting cards. In other words, only buy toys where you need a screwdriver to open the battery case. Because when batteries are swallowed, they can leak acid and cause serious internal burns.
- Magnets. Digestive tract experts say that when kids swallow two or more magnets, they can clump together and put kinks in their intestines. They’ll need to be surgically removed. And emergency room doctors are increasingly seeing tweens who accidentally swallow magnets they use for “pretend” lip and tongue piercings.
- Watch the volume. Everything from drum sets to MP3 players can cause hearing damage. Young children shouldn’t be exposed to noises that are louder than a dishwasher. And when teens listen to music, if they’ve got their earbuds in – and they can’t hear you speaking normally – they’re permanently damaging their hearing.