Your kids love to have the hottest toys, but you need to consider more than just what they want before you buy.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says last year in the U.S., eleven children died of toy-related injuries, all but one of them choking.
Stormont-Vail Parent Educator Ann Beedles says the age guidelines on packages are a good first thing to check when considering a toy. For children under age three, choking is a big concern. Beedles says toy makers have taken notice. Little People, for example, are a lot bigger than they were 20 years ago.
To check a toy for choking hazards yourself, Beedles suggests using a standard toilet paper or paper towel cardboard tube. If something will fit through it, it's too small to be given to a child under three.
Size may not mean the whole toy either, but parts. Some toy cars and trains are recommended for children over three because wheels could come off. With stuffed animals, look for sewn-on eyes or pull them to be sure they are sewn securely into the fabric.
For younger and older kids, sharp objects become a concern. Beedles says you want to be sure not to have pointed objects or plastics that can be broken into sharp objects, like the more brittle plastics.
When it comes to active gifts, use your head! Beedles says give safety equipment like helmets and pads when you give bicycles and roller blades.
You can find more about toy safety through the Consumer Product Safety Commission's Web site, www.cpsc.gov. Click the publications section and select toy safety.