Safe Toys for Your Holidays

December 12, 2011

With apologies to Mr. Clement Carke Moore and his wonderful poem:

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes 
that inside, safe toys would be there.

How do we know which toys are safe?

Let’s start with the stocking stuffers.

The most common danger is a choking hazard from small items or parts/pieces which are easily separated from the toy. The website www.uspirg.org lists 12 specific toys for the 2011 Holiday seasons which pose a choking hazard.

But choking hazards are only one of the dangers to concern us. Despite years of regulation, dangers posed by lead paint, chemical toxicity, strangulation and even flammability continue to show up on retail shelves in children’s products. The Consumer Product Safety Commission at www.cpsc.gov lists 17 pages of toys recalled in 2011 alone.

Of 400 child deaths in 2010, more than half occurred because of choking on small parts. Frequent problems arose from:

  • Small balls and marbles
  • Small wooden or plastic blocks
  • Prepackaged small plastic animals, dinosaurs, soldiers etc.
  • Packages containing balloons

Potentially toxic toys most commonly contain lead or phthalates, and frequently show up in:

  • Child make up/eye shadow kits*
  • Watches*
  • Bracelets*
  • Necklaces*
  • Child jewelry kits*

The items with an * can include such respected or recognized labels as Hello Kitty/Sanrio, Disney, Sesame Workshop, Family Dollar, among others.

Federal law bans toys with small parts for children under age three. However, any toy (or removable part) smaller than two inches in diameter should be kept away from children—regardless of age—who continue to put things their mouth. For these children, small blocks, balls and marbles are especially dangerous.

There is no substitute for common sense. Parents with older children as well as children age three and under, have to be concerned with a younger child’s access to the toys of older siblings. For example, there is a wide variety of “projectile” type toys on the market which if not used with proper supervision, may not only cause eye injuries, but pose a choking hazard if the “ammunition” is left within reach of younger children.

The website www.saferproducts.gov has an easy to search database of products including toys, dolls, action figures, building sets, balls, cribs, strollers, infant carriers, pacifiers, teething rings, ATVs, scuba equipment, kitchen appliances, space heaters and almost any other product you can think of that has a record of defects which pose a safety hazard. The database is made up of reports by consumers, child service providers, health care professionals, government officers and public safety entities, and includes responses and information provided by the manufacturers.

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For more information about "Safe Toys for Your Holidays," contact John Walsh at jwalsh@axley.com or 608.283.6709.