By Brandi Aurelio

With the holiday season quickly approaching, you’re probably starting to finish up your gift purchases. You might be looking into gifts for children and toddlers. How can you be sure what you are buying is safe for your young loved one? With these tips from Baby Center, you’ll be able to pick out the perfect gift and keep those little ones safe!

Pick age-appropriate toys.
Most toys have a “recommended age” sticker which is a perfect starting point when beginning to chose gifts. Be realistic when picking out the gift. Don’t chose something that you know is above your loved one’s abilities and maturity level. For example, don’t get something with small parts for a child that still tends to put everything in their mouth.

Choose toys that are well-made.
Often times used toys tend to be worn down and prone to breaking, which could become dangerous in the hands of a child. Check toys for any loose or frayed parts before giving them to young ones to ensure that the toy is safe for use. Make sure that buttons and beads are thoroughly secured on toys like stuffed animals to prevent any harm to children.

Think big, but not heavy.
Small children put everything in their mouths. It’s a yucky but common habit among children. To prevent something like a choking episode in children under 3, choose gifts that are bigger than the child’s mouth. A good rule of thumb is to compare it the opening of a toilet paper tube. If it is larger than that opening, it should be safe for the child. If it can fit inside, then it might be best to wait until the child is older to purchase that gift. In another point, don’t choose gifts that are too heavy for the child that it is intended for. Could the child be harmed if it fell on him or her? If so, then pass on that gift.

Make sure your child is physically ready for the toy.
For older children, don’t buy a gift that you know is above the child’s age level. This could lead to injury when used. For example, don’t buy a bike that is too big for a child just so that you will not have to buy a bigger one the following year. This could result in harm to the child when he or she tries to ride it.

Don’t pick toys with a long string or cord.
A cord or string on a toy can easily wrap around a young one’s neck, which could result in disaster. If the cord or string is longer than 12 inches and the toy is intended for a younger child, pass on that toy until they are older. It is not worth the risk!

Watch out for toxic toys.
The final tip is to choose toys that are non toxic. Research toys without chemicals such as phthalates, which are often referred to as plasticizers. This chemical is used to make plastic more flexible and durable and can be found in many children’s toys, but can be toxic to children. Other chemicals to look out for that are common in toys are Cadmium, lead, mercury and arsenic. Yes, arsenic. Be sure to research the toys you are purchasing to ensure a safe and happy holiday season!

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