Raising Healthy Kids: Making good toy choices

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The rush will soon be on at toy stores, as shoppers buy for the younger ones on their holiday gift list. (WPVI)

The rush will soon be on at toy stores, as shoppers buy for the younger ones on their holiday gift list. In this week's edition of Raising Healthy Kids, Erin O-Hearn shares tips from an expert on making good choices.

Somehow, Santa knows what's just right for little ones.

The rest of us sometimes need a little help in picking the right gifts for kids

Gina Duchossois, an injury prevention expert at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, says there are 2 factors to keep mind - buy for a child's developmental level - and be sure it's safe.

For infants up to 1 year of age - "Activity mats, soft toys that don't have any small parts, " says Duchoissois.

For those between 1 and 2 years of age - "Musical instruments are a great toy," she says. "Toys that you can push and pull are also great."

But if those toys have cords or strings, be sure they are 12 inches long or less - "Or they could be a strangulation hazard," she warns.

Always check the packaging on a toy or craft item, for the recommended age, and for any warning labels -

"They may contain parts that could potentially be a choking hazard for young children," Duchossois says.

"That is absolutely the number one hazard," she adds.

In the home, be sure to keep those toys away from younger siblings.

As children move into school ages - especially for the tween years - Duchossois suggests gearing your gift to their interests.

"If a child is interested in science, a telescope is a wonderful gift," she says. And it's an activity children and parents can do together.

She says books and musical instruments are always a good choice, along with outdoor play or sports equipment.

Those items encourages children to stay active.

But if you do give skateboards or bicycles, don't forget to also give the safety gear - especially for the head.

"It's good to start young. If you're buying a tricycle for a toddler, it's a great idea to get a bike helmet. It's even more important to get a bike helmet that would fit the child," she notes.

A good fitting helmet should sit on top of the head, covering the forehead. It shouldn't rest back on a child's head.

The strap should V around the ear, and the chin strap should be snug - with no more than one finger of space between the chin and strap.

Good quality safety gear doesn't have to be expensive.

Children's Hospital and Nemour-A.I. DuPont hospital are among those in the area selling helmets, car seats, and other safety equipment at cost - far below store prices.

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healthhealthchecktoysraising healthy kidschildren
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