Each year, an estimated 250,000 children are hospitalized nationwide with toy-related injuries. In recognition of December as Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Michael Flaherty, DO, MGHfC critical care physician and injury prevention researcher, shares a few tips to help prevent injuries during the holiday season.

Consider the child’s age
Not all toys are created equal. It is important to note the age recommendations on toys which are based on the development, skill level and interest of the child.

Become a label reader
Look for safety labels including “flame retardant/flame resistant” on fabric products and “washable/hygienic materials” on stuffed toys and dolls.

Keep in mind some of the dangers that certain toys pose to children, depending on their age.

For babies and newborns: Never hang toys from ropes, cords or strings in playpens or crib gyms, as they can lead to choking or strangling.

For children under age 3: Be aware of toys with small parts that may break easily. “Button” batteries from small electronic devices can pose serious harm to children if ingested and should be checked for in all devices and secured or removed. Other small parts can lead to choking.

Children under age 5 should not use toys with projectiles, such as toy missiles, darts or arrows. If a toy does have a projectile, make sure it is soft.

Children under age 8 should not play with toys and products with sharp edges, toys made of glass or metal, or electronic toys. Check your children’s toys carefully to make sure there is no risk of choking, loose parts, burns or other injuries.

Stay up-to-date with recent recalls for toys that may pose a danger to children.