Guest Post by Scott Reddler
The holidays are a time for gift-giving, and children often receive many fun accessories as holiday surprises. When we were children, many of us often received necklaces, bracelets or little rings for the holidays or as a birthday present. Maybe these were for playing dress up or they were gifted as special presents to be worn for dressier occasions (like church, holidays or major events).
While sparkly jewelry may be a sweet holiday present for youngsters, be careful in choosing jewelry as a child’s gift. Before you wrap up those baubles, make sure you know they are safe for the young recipient. Unfortunately, many costume jewelry items from retailers have hidden dangers. According to an article by CBS News, tests conducted by The Ecology Group revealed that some jewelry items contained lead and other dangerous chemicals.
So how do you know what’s safe? You can buy jewelry that’s inexpensive, but made from safe materials—metals like silver, gold, titanium. Parents or gift-givers also can find jewelry made from ceramic at jewelry stores. Or even woven jewelry made from satin, silk or other fabrics.
However, metals aren’t the only concern regarding gifts of jewelry. Younger children also should not be given any piece of jewelry that may pose a choking hazard. Say no to small charms, shells, or beaded necklaces that may be put in the mouth. Earrings also may be a choking hazard for younger children—make sure all earring backs cannot be pulled off (screw on backs are safer)…or don’t buy them. While jewelry might be pretty and a cute gift, they could have tragic consequences for younger children…or those who are prone to put items in their mouth.
Necklaces also may strangle young children. Writing for the Chicago Tribune, pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard, recommends no necklaces for children under the age of four.
Some children also may have an allergy to certain metals, and nickel is often the top culprit. For children who have allergies or sensitive skin, always ask parents before gifting any jewelry. If your child suddenly complains of itching and irritation after wearing jewelry, head to the pediatrician or an allergist to help rule out allergies and treat the skin. Even adults may discover that a piece of jewelry like a wedding ring suddenly causes irritation.
For younger kids, it’s simply best to skip jewelry all together as a stocking stuffer or gift. Older kids, though, may enjoy a special present like a new bracelet, ring, earrings or necklace. For older school kids, tweens and teens, just make sure to purchase nickel-free jewelry and be sure items are made from a known and pure metal—again, silver is extremely budget friendly. Kids also may have a boho flair, which makes macramé necklaces or bracelets an ideal choice.
Beware of any items that are cheap and obviously plated. You simply have no idea what they may hide. And even though older kids won’t put items in their mouth, certain chemicals are harmful to everyone—regardless of age. Remember that younger children often put items in their mouth, and this makes even seemingly harmless items a deadly hazard. Beads, charms, shells and other small items are a choking hazard. Choose jewelry items carefully and cautiously…and save those sparkling gifts for when a child is old enough to appreciate them and wear them safely.
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*Photos courtesy of Scott Reddler