This Year's Troublesome Toys

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Children: the most curious of creatures. They get their hands in everything. But the toys they touch may not always be safe.

"There's always reports that come out around this time of the year that highlight things relating to toy safety," says Treehouse Toys and Books owner Brent Taylor.

So Sparrow Hospital and the Public Interest Research Group (PIRGIM) have done just that. They want parents to know what's safe and what's not before they head to the stores, especially for children aged three and younger.

"Make sure your toys are big enough, that you're not buying any little marbles or toys that could fit in [children's mouths], and make sure the bigger toys you're buying don't have small parts," says PIRGIM's Katie Davis.

Davis says the easiest way to choke-proof toys is to take an empty toilet paper roll and see if the toys fit inside it. If they do, they are a hazard to your small children.

She also points to items with swallowable pieces like doll pacifiers, marbles and toy screws. And she says the most dangerous toys are those with magnets. Magnets can bore holes in a person's esophagus. And be careful; toddlers can choke on their older siblings' small toys.

"First thing to look at is age recommendations on a package, and consider the ages of all the children in your household that might pose a conflict," says Taylor.

Last year, nearly 73,000 kids ended up in the emergency room from toy-related injuries and 20 died.

"One child death due to a toy is too many," reminds Davis.

"Supervision goes a long way, apart from these guidelines. Protecting kids by watching them can prevent choking and other sorts of accidents," says Dr. John Kepros of Sparrow Hospital.

Taylor says if you have any questions while shopping to, "put sales people in the store to work. Use their knowledge."

That way toys can be delightful, not disastrous, for your tots.