"It's that one time you turn your head that you're going to have a problem," Kehoe said.
Parents also should be mindful of new dangers presented by modern toys. For example, many toys contain small but powerful magnets, and "magnets have proven to be incredibly dangerous," Weintraub said.
The hazard comes when a child swallows more than one magnet. The magnets can stick together through the walls of the child's digestive tract, potentially causing internal tears or blockages. "It can rip through a child's intestines," she said."
Small batteries contained in toys present another danger to children. If swallowed, the batteries can lodge in the esophagus and cause a potentially fatal burn as the battery's current eats through the body's internal tissues. Medical experts whose research on battery hazards appeared in the June Pediatrics found that a swallowed battery has to be removed from the child's esophagus within two hours to prevent serious injury or death.
"Consumers Union performed a presentation where they put a piece of ham on a battery and it burned through," Weintraub said.
Laser pointers and toys with laser attachments also present a risk. A 15-year-old Swiss boy playing with a laser pointer accidentally beamed the laser into his eyes, permanently damaging his vision, according to a letter published Sept. 9 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Even video games have their problems. Too much play can create eyestrain, Kehoe said.
"If you do anything too much, it's not good for you," he said. "Children should not spend more than 20 to 30 minutes playing a video game without taking a visual break."
Parents who want to make sure toys remain fun and treasured possessions rather than potentially dangerous devices should follow a few key suggestions, according to Weintraub, Kehoe and Prevent Blindness America:
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