Experts also urge parents to pay attention to the labeling on packages and to buy age-appropriate toys.
Too often, parents buy toys for their kids that are out of their child's age range, because the child is considered bright enough to play with an advanced toy, Fleming said. The problem is, even bright children might not have the motor skills necessary to play with those toys in a safe manner.
"You have to understand that the age is there for safety, not just for comprehension levels," Fleming said. "We have to put those toys away and wait for the kids to reach those milestones."
There's one other hazard parents should keep in mind -- the packaging the toys come in. They should move quickly on Christmas morning to clean up all the mounds of debris left in the wake of gift-giving.
"The adult really needs to take away those packaging materials," Fleming said, noting such choking hazards as twist-ties, shrink-wrap plastic and small plastic anchors. "We don't want any of the packaging to turn into a deadly plaything, so the adult really needs to clean all of that up."
To learn more about choosing safe toys, visit the Nemours Foundation.
SOURCES: Liz Hitchcock, public health advocate, U.S. Public Interest Research Group, Boston; Nychelle Fleming, spokesperson, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Bethesda, Md.
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