The holidays are here, and I wish everyone all the joy and fun they can bring. Here are a few reminders to help keep our kids safe and healthy so they can enjoy the season!
Choking hazards: Most importantly, read the label on the toy and follow the recommended age guidelines. Those age recommendations are often based on the toy’s safety for the intended age. Be cautious about used toys. They may have broken parts or pieces that may render the toy unsafe. A general guideline to use: if an object will fit into a cardboard toilet paper roll, it’s small enough to be a potential choking hazard.
Cords and strings: Young children and babies should not be given toys that have cords or strings. They can become tangled around the baby’s or toddler’s neck.
Coins: Many coins will pass through the stomach and intestine and be passed in the stool within a couple of days. However, coins can sometimes become lodged in the throat or esophagus. It is generally best to call your child’s doctor if they swallow a coin. They can review the signs or symptoms of problems for which you should be looking, and discuss how to proceed. Sometimes it’s necessary to locate a coin with an x-ray to see if it’s likely to get lodged or pass through.
Batteries: Unfortunately, batteries are a common part of many children’s toys nowadays. A swallowed battery is potentially dangerous due to the caustic chemicals inside it, so medical evaluation is recommended if a child or baby swallows a battery. Many times, this results in a trip to the hospital Emergency Department, as a battery may need to be removed from the gastrointestinal tract.
Magnets: These can be dangerous if swallowed, particularly if it’s more than one. The two magnets can attach to each other from different places in the stomach or intestine, possibly causing obstructions and/or impairing blood flow to the affected tissue. Swallowed magnets should be evaluated urgently by your child’s doctor or in an Emergency Department.
Scooters / Skates / Skateboards
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more children age 5 to 14 visit the emergency rooms for bicycle / scooter / skateboard injuries than any sport. Helmets are the single most effective piece of safety equipment for riders, and any child riding anything with wheels should be wearing a well-fitting helmet. In my opinion, the next most important item for kids riding skates, skateboards, and scooters are wrist guards. I can’t begin to count the number of broken wrists I have seen over the years from kids falling off skateboards and scooters!
And lastly, even though it’s the holiday season and most people expect a little indulgence, please don’t throw healthy eating habits out the window! Childhood obesity is a continually-growing problem, and even just a few weeks of letting our good eating habits lapse can have negative impacts on our kids’ health. Occasional sweets and treats in small portions can be okay, but don’t let the season trick you into letting your child’s healthy eating habits languish.
Be safe, be healthy, and Happy Holidays to you all!