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Choose Wisely: Safe Toys & Gifts


Thanksgiving feast

‘Tis the season of gift-giving. So many marketing emails bombarding your inbox about various sales this holiday season. But in the midst of all of the planning for what to buy for that friend/coworker/ family member, important things to keep in mind are both the safety and the appropriateness of the gift.


And now you may be thinking, “Great, one more thing to stress me out while doing my holiday shopping.” But it really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a chemistry set wouldn’t be appropriate for a toddler... And your homemade chocolate covered peanut butter balls are definitely not going to work for that friend that has a peanut allergy...


So, what can you do? There are various resources to see safety reports for different consumer goods. One of them in particular is ConsumerReports.org. You can see reports on items such as the safety of car seats and other baby items, to various reports on the effectiveness of electronics and other products.


Focusing on toys for a moment, HealthyChildren.org suggests the following tips for choosing safe toys:

  • Read the label for any warnings about age ranges, or supervision alerts. (See my comment about the chemistry set above…)

  • Think LARGE. It is suggested that toys and any removable parts be larger than the child’s mouth to prevent choking. (So, no Star Wars Death Star Lego sets for that 3-year-old in your life…)

  • Avoid toys that shoot objects into the air, as these can cause serious eye injuries. (Sorry, Ralphie…you’ll shoot your eye out with that Red Ryder BB Gun…)

  • Avoid toys that are loud, as they could damage the child’s hearing. (Their parents will also be appreciative of the quieter house…)

  • Make sure stuffed toys are well made with small parts secured well, such as buttons, or other objects

But maybe you are someone that loves to bake during the holidays. There is the possibility of food allergies. The CDC reported at the beginning of 2023 that almost 6% of adults and children in the United States have food allergies. That may not seem like a lot, but it is something to consider when making your grandmother’s gingerbread cookie recipe. As someone with a child that has a food allergy, it can be scary to see just how many foods could be contaminated with the one thing she has to avoid. So, make sure you take precautions when preparing those delicious holiday treats.


While this blog is about gifts, it is also important to note that decorations should be placed with safety in mind. Be sure you aren’t copying Clark Griswold from Christmas Vacation with your extension cords for your outside lights (i.e. DO NOT plug ten extension cords each into over three different power strips that lead to one singular outlet). And make sure smaller decorations are out of reach of pets and children to avoid injury or choking hazard.


No matter what holiday you celebrate this time of year, or what your gift-giving or decorating traditions may be, your friends here at STEP wish you a safe and happy holiday season!


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