By Aileen Shen

BPHC’s Injury Prevention Program works to reduce injuries through education, technology, and legislation. The program focuses on child injury prevention and partners with Safe Kids USA on issues like car seats, pedestrian safety, biking and helmets, window guards, summer and winter safety, and on the safety of elderly, especially in preventing falls. Our program is a resource and an advocate for caretakers, educators, health care providers, and the community.

In 2010, more than 180,000 toy-related injuries required emergency room visits. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, and with the frenzy of parties and shopping, we want to help you and your family be safe during the busiest toy shopping season of the year.

Are you buying toys for the right age?

Here are some recommendations from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission about safe toys for different ages.

Under age 3
• Since children under 3 tend to put everything in their mouths, avoid buying toys with small parts that pose a choking hazard.
• Avoid marbles or game pieces with a diameter of 1.75 inches or less as they pose a choking hazard.
• Look for well-made toys that will not come undone with pulling, prodding, and twisting. This includes tightly secured eyes, noses, and other parts.

3-5 years
• Avoid toys constructed with thin or brittle material that can break into jagged edges.
• Look for household art materials, including crayons and paint sets, marked with “ASTM D-4236,” which means they have been reviewed by a toxocolist and are labeled with any cautionary information.
• Teach older children to keep their toys away from younger brothers and sisters.

6-12 years
• If buying a toy gun, be sure the barrel or entire gun is brightly colored so it is not mistaken for a real gun.
• If buying a bicycle, also buy a helmet and make sure the child wears it and follows bike safety rules. Helmets can be bought at Boston Medical Center gift shop for $5.

Are you avoiding unsafe toys?

World Against Toys that Cause Harm (WATCH), which has been reporting dangerous toys for more than 30 years and has contributed to the recall of some toys, announced their annual “10 Worst Toys” when it comes to safety. Take a look at their list to learn more about why some toys might be unsafe for kids of different ages.

In addition to knowing the types of toys to look for and to avoid, parents can sign up for e-mail alerts to let them know right away about any recalled toys at

Let’s spread cheer rather than tears this holiday season!

Aileen Shen is BPHC’s new director of the Injury Prevention Program. Learn more about the program here.