Doc Talk: Choking Hazards for Children

In our new weekly feature, Doc Talk we're talking one-on-one with Medical Director of Emergency Medicine, Geetanjali Srivastava from Valley Children's Hospital.

We're talking about what could be a major threat to children -- their toys!

Every year, emergency departments around the county treat more than a quarter of a million toy-related injuries.

1. What are some things we should be concerned about in some of the traditional toys?

Sharp Edges
- New toys for children under 8 should be free of sharp glass or metal edges
- Make sure they can't shatter

Small Parts
- Checked stuffed animals for removable small eyes or noses
- Check for small, removable squeakers (avoid close contact with people who are sick - and when YOU are sick, you're your distance from others)

Cords and Strings
- They pose strangulation risks for infants and young children
- Never hang toys with long strings, cords, loops or ribbons in cribs or playpens

2. Nowadays we see more electric toys... what are the dangers with those?

Electric Toys
- Electric toys like trains can sometimes overheat. Not recommended for children younger than eight
- Watch for small parts that can come dislodged - like screws

Button Batteries
One of the most dangerous items for a child to ingest is a button battery

They're found in small toys, like ones you get from fast food restaurants, singing greeting cards, other smaller items. As soon as they enter the body, they begin to disintegrate, causing internal damage.

3. How can parents help their children avoid choking and strangulation?

Cut up food
- Toddlers' food should be in tiny pieces

- Children's under five shouldn't eat small, round or hard foods - including pieces of hot dogs, cheese sticks, or chunks of hard candy, nuts or grapes
- Keep kids upright
- They should sit up while eating, not while lying down or playing on the floor.
- Place small objects out of reach
- Get on the floor and see what's at your child's eye level
- Remove small items you can reach - anything that can fit through a toilet paper roll
- Keep small objects like buttons, jewelry, coins and stones out of reach
- Be on the lookout for magnets
- Keep small magnets away from kids
- Regularly inspect games or toys that include magnets to make sure they're not loose or missing
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