It’s a magical time of year and season of giving. There’s a feeling of delight when a child holds a treasured toy for the first time. That precious look in the child’s eyes says it all. For grownups, that’s the joy of giving toys for the holidays.

Julia Pickens, Aspirus pediatrician.

Giving the gift of safety this holiday season is extremely important. Making sure the toys you are purchasing are appropriate for the child’s age is key.

While kids want fun stuff, they need safe playthings too. During National Safe Toys and Gift Month, Aspirus Health shares these safety tips for your next trip down the toy aisle:

  1. Read labels carefully. Labels on toy packages can help you decide if the toy is safe for a child’s age and matches his or her interests and abilities. Make sure the label says the toy is nontoxic – meaning it doesn’t contain materials that could poison a child.
  1. Look for potential hazards. For instance, loud toys can harm a child’s hearing. Strings or ribbons on stuffed animals can cause strangulation – remove them if the gift is for a young child. And small game pieces are OK for older kids, but they may choke a younger child if swallowed.
  1. Think twice about flying toys. Toys that shoot things into the air can be a blast. But some parts may injure eyes or be choking hazards.
  1. For young kids, avoid toys that need to be plugged in. Children younger than the age of 10 are safer with battery-powered toys instead. Just remember to keep any button batteries – which might be swallowed – away from younger siblings.
  1. Hand them a helmet too. Buying a riding toy? Don’t forget to include this safety gear for your skateboarding teen or tricycling tyke.

Last year, there were over 198,000 toy-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Some of the most common injuries are:

  • Choking
  • Contusions
  • Eye injuries
  • Face injuries
  • Burns

For more information about toy safety, visit or

Julia Pickens, MD, is a pediatrician at Aspirus Rhinelander Clinic – North Shore Drive.