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Toy Safety and Button Batteries

Published on Dec. 07, 2020

Whether you are shopping for your own kids or for others, make holiday gifting a bit easier this season by narrowing down your options with these tips for toy safety.

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, in 2016, 174,100 children were treated in the emergency department for toy-related injuries and almost half were 5 years old or younger.

Toys that are age and developmentally appropriate is the first step to safety. For children who are crawlers, cruisers and toddlers:

  • Avoid choking hazards by opting for the “bigger” toy. Consider the size of a toilet paper roll. If a toy can fit through the center, it is too small. Supplemental tools such as small screws for toy building are also dangerous for small children, so keep a watchful eye on everything that comes out of a gift box.
  • Be alert for balloons, inflatables and small balls that are suffocation hazards.
  • Watch for sharp points, cords and strings that can pose a danger to children who might be playing unsupervised.
  • Keep button batteries (particularly those around 20mm in size found in toys, remotes and cards) out of a child’s reach because they can cause life-threatening injury when ingested. If your child swallows one, take them to the nearest emergency department without delay.
  • Keep small magnets (i.e. BB type or buckyballs) out of a child’s reach because they can cause serious intestinal injury when ingested.

For school-aged kids, tweens and teens:

  • Make sure that riding toys such as scooters and bikes are properly adjusted and ensure that kids are using protective gear, especially helmets (parents should set the example!).
  • Limit maximum volume on electronic devices because some ear buds and headphones can pose long term hearing problems when played at high decibels.
  • Remind children to limit distractions from new toys while walking or riding bikes to avoid pedestrian injuries.
  • Put toys away safely when they are not in use as they may pose a risk to younger, curious siblings.

Adult supervision is the most effective tool for injury prevention so always read instructions and labels for all toys for children of all ages and sign up to receive product recalls. Wrapping paper accessories, ribbon and ornaments can also pose as a threat to children so clean up quickly and dispose of any mess as soon as possible.

Gravitate toward safer toy choices this holiday season and never hesitate to save presents gifted to your children for when they are of an appropriate age to play with them.

In case of an emergency call 9-1-1. For more information regarding toy safety, visit Safe Kids Central California at

Written by Doug Tamura, MD, Trauma Medical Director