What is the first thing you think about when you go shopping for a gift? It can be for a birthday, a holiday, or another special event. Do you think about your budget? Do you try to remember their hobby or favorite color?

For me, I always think about the safety of the gift. Especially if the gift is for a child, it is important to consider if the present is a safe fit. After all in 2018, there were 166,200 toy-related emergency department-treated injuries. That is an average of more than 450 emergency department visits every day from toys!

So how do I know if the toy I want to gift a child is safe? I follow these tips!

Check the label

The label on the box not only tells you what ages the toy is appropriate for, but also about the hazards and risks associated with the toy. This label is especially helpful for young children because it can identify choking hazards from small pieces to balloons.

After reading the label, examine the product closely. Are there any small pieces, sharp or pointy edges, or pieces that fly off? Are there any possible risks not included on the label?

Match the Safety Equipment

When you pick out the perfect gift, pick out the appropriate matching safety equipment. That could be a helmet, knee pads, protective goggles, or even oven mitts! You also want to make sure these items are sized appropriately. Safety equipment and toys not meant to “be grown into.”

In fact, bicycle and skateboard helmets are available at special pricing through the Safe Kids Vermont coalition. From toddler through adult, all helmets are $10 (cash or check). Please contact vtsafekids@uvmhealth.org with size requests and to schedule pick up times.

Consider the youngest in the household

The toy set with a hundred little pieces might be perfect for your 12-year-old niece, but if she shares a room with her 2-year-old little sister, that gift is suddenly not so perfect!

Younger children in a household often access to the toys and gifts of older children. Be careful if you are introducing choking hazards or other dangers into a young child’s home environment.

Keep up to date on recalls

There are recalls every year on toys and other consumer products.

If you are concerned about a potential gift, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website (www.cpsc.gov). or subscribe to get e-mails on specific types of products through their webpage as well (www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/Subscribe).

Additionally, you can always talk to the parents or caregivers about appropriate toys and gifts. For parents and caregivers, your child’s pediatrician or medical care provider can also give suggestions on toys appropriate for their age and maturity.

Abby Beerman is an injury prevention coordinator at University of Vermont Medical Center and Children’s Hospital.

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