a special feature from Kay & Leslie, founders grandparentslink.com

As grandparents we take great pride in making sure we are the best we can be! After all, this is a time in our lives to embrace and enjoy.  While the dishes can wait, as can everything else, stop and take a minute this holiday to make sure your choices for the little ones are prudent and intelligent. We all want our precious grandchildren to be safe and out of harm’s way. Why ruin a perfectly wonderful gathering with a trip to the doctor? A few simple tips will keep our little ones safe and happy. Believe it or not, the holiday season is an impressive time where many accidents occur, especially when it comes to children’s toys and food-related injuries. Remember this mantra: safety, safety and more safety!

Take a moment to make a safety check of toys – Right Now – boy, will you rest better

Make sure all toys purchased, exchanged, or received are age appropriate.  Okay, we know sometimes we want to buy something and we are truly stretching the age suggestions regarding the toys.  Do not do it; don’t let your impulses cloud your judgment. There’s plenty of time for a 4 year-old to enjoy something that is clearly advertised for a 7 year-old; he/she only has three more birthdays, and voila’, you can then go and purchase it. Most reported toy-related injuries occur when children are simply too young for the toy they are playing with. This happens so often with younger children who have older siblings.  Remember, small parts for the older children may promote dexterity, but they are a choking hazard for the littler ones. Make sure there are no sharp edges or strings. Be smart… take away anything you suspect may be dangerous.

Love those vintage/collectable toys that someone passed down to the little one or you bought in an antique store? Remember this one: since 1978, there are very strict guidelines for toys sold here in the US to be ‘lead –free’. With that in mind, be sure you know the origin of where the toy is made and check painted areas you may see. With respect to antique toys and collectables, be careful; chipping or peeling paint may uncover harmful toxins. Rust is as dangerous as anything – tetanus is serious. Don’t panic, just be pro-active and take the toys away from any children whose little mouths may be around them.

Whatever the case may be regarding toys — stay alert. When there are large family gatherings, keep the toys off the floor and designate a particular area for the children. Avoid an adult or even a child tripping over the goodies and spoiling all the possible fun. There’s nothing more disturbing than a visit to the ER for a sprain or break or cut. What a way to spoil a great time together.

Make sure your toys are both flame retardant, and flame resistant.  It’s also a good idea to put a new fabric toy in the wash before you give it to the little one who just happens to put everything in his/her mouth.  Above all else, all the toys should indicate they are non-toxic.  If it doesn’t say it, throw it away, or return to vender. Don’t take chances. This also applies to battery-operated toys; they should all have battery cases that keep them secure so kids cannot access them or pry them open. Batteries contain a fluid that poses serious risks, including chemical burns and internal bleeding if ingested.

Lastly, your check of the toys is another pair of caring and loving eyes that may help to avoid an unnecessary injury.  FYI…. you don’t have to wait for the holiday time to do your checking; staying aware is a year-round responsibility.