With every Christmas season comes the year's hot must-have toys. While you're searching for sales and checking things off your shopping list, be sure to check for toy safety standards, especially if you're buying online.

“Buying the hottest and trendiest toys for your child may be the first thing that crosses your mind this holiday season, but remember that safety should always come first,” says Purnima Unni, pediatric trauma injury prevention program manager at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. “A significant number of parents who shop for toys on the Internet don’t realize that imitation toys aren’t tested and verified to comply with United States toy safety standards,” she adds.

Unni says several children are seen in the ER each year due to toy-related injuries. In 2017, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported an estimated 251,700 toy-related, ER-treated injuries with 13 toy-related deaths.

“Good toys for young children need to match their stages of development and emerging abilities,” says Unni. “When getting gifts for babies and toddlers, look at the labels, which are meant to be a helpful tool to the buyer.”

TOY-BUYING SAFETY TIPS

• Check the label. Follow age guidelines and other safety information on packaging. Age grading is based on safety concerns and on the developmental appropriateness for children.

• Avoid toys with small parts, as well as marbles and small balls, for children younger than age 3.

• Ensure that stuffed toys have age-appropriate features such as embroidered or secured eyes and noses for younger children and seams that are reinforced to withstand an older child’s play.

• If a toy has magnet pieces, be careful. High-powered magnet sets are a safety risk. Children can swallow loose magnets, causing serious intestinal injuries.

• Battery-operated toys should be closely examined. The law states that battery compartments can only be opened with a tool. If the compartment is accessible without a tool, report the violation to the CPSC.

• Button batteries are dangerous. A child can swallow a button battery and suffer chemical burns in as little as two hours.

• Get safety gear. With scooters and other riding toys, be sure to include helmets along with kneed and elbow pads. Helmets should always be worn properly, and they should be sized to fit.

• Know your seller. Purchase toys from retailers you know and trust.

Find more safety tips from the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt's HERE.