Sometimes it’s hard to say who is having the most fun when it comes to gift giving during the winter holidays: the kids getting the gifts or the parents picking them out and anticipating the happiness they will bring. Before you load up your trunk with gifts for your littlest loved ones, remember to always put safety first, especially when it comes to toys for infants and toddlers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers some tips on toy safety, including:

  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child.
  • When choosing gifts for babies and toddlers, consider toys that will build developmental skills. Toys that can be manipulated, such as shape sorters, stacking blocks, and baby-safe puzzles, are great for developing fine motor, cognitive, and perceptual skills.
  • Look for toys without small pieces. Young children can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age 3 cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Remove tags, strings, and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children. Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches long, because they could be a strangulation hazard for babies.

To see all the AAP’s recommendations, including tips for toy selection for older children and links to additional resources, click here.

Zero to Three, an organization that educates the public and political leaders about the unique developmental needs of babies and toddlers, provides guidelines on choosing toys for toddlers, including:

  • Choose toys that can be used in a variety of ways.
  • Select toys that encourage exploration and problem-solving.
  • Toss in some “getting ready to read” toys.
  • Look for toys that nurture cross-generational play.

You can read all their recommendations here.

Emergency Care for Choking in Infants

In our blog post, Halloween Candy and Choking Hazards, we reviewed the steps to help a choking child. The situation becomes more complex when responding to an infant; it can be difficult to recognize choking since infants do not speak. Look at the infant’s face. If she has weak, ineffective coughs, or there is a lack of sound, even when she is clearly attempting to breathe, act quickly! If available, have a bystander activate EMS.

Deliver 5 back blows:

  • Lay the infant face down over your forearm with her legs straddled and with her head lower than her chest. Support the head by holding the jaw.
  • Using the heel of the other hand, give 5 back blows between shoulder blades

Give 5 chest thrusts:

  • Sandwich the infant between your forearms and turn onto back.
  • Place 2 fingers on the breastbone just below nipple line and give 5 chest thrusts
  • Repeat back blows and chest thrusts until the infant can breathe normally.
  • If the infant becomes unresponsive, begin infant CPR.