Sometimes even the most innocent looking toy can be dangerous. For example, adorable dolls with bows and buttons that come off easily could potentially present a choking hazard. The material inside of glow bracelets can be toxic if your child manages to sink her teeth into it. So how can you find out which toys present a danger for your child?
The U.S.Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) [cpsc.gov] keeps a list of all toys that have been recalled in the last few years on its website. The agency also provides general toy safety information for parents. For example, the web site provides educational posters for known dangers that are included in toys such as button batteries and high-power magnets. The site also offers tips for choosing and using toys such as cap guns, balloons and electric toys safely.
A non-profit group called W.A.T.C.H. (a World Against Toys Causing Harm) also offers educational information to parents about toy safety. Additionally, the group creates a list of the top 10 most dangerous toys each year. You can find the lists on their website.
Examples of Dangerous Toys
Scanning the CPSC website instantly brings up numerous recent toy recalls. There are bikes with defective parts that can cause your child to crash, a nightlight that can crack open and pose an electrical shock hazard, toys that break apart presenting a choking hazard and a child’s watch that can cause a skin irritation.
Fortunately, most manufacturers voluntarily issue a recall before any injuries are reported. Yet, there are examples in the recent past of toys where children were injured before a recall was issued. Here are a couple of examples.
* Tiny Love Wind Chime Toys were recalled in 2010 when it was discovered that a baby could pull the wind chime apart, exposing sharp metal pieces that could cut a child—which is exactly what happened.
* The Leapfrog Learn-Around Playground caused scratches and bruises to several babies when their arms were caught in the toy.
* The Playskool Magic Start Crawl and Stand caused several injuries to children, including cuts, black eyes and bruises.
How to Identify Dangerous Baby Toys
Experts such as the folks at W.A.T.C.H. suggest that you keep the following tips in mind to help you avoid purchasing dangerous toys in the first place:
* Avoid toys with small parts that are less than 1.75 inches in diameter. Be especially careful with toys that include small balls, which can become very easily stuck in your child’s windpipe.
* Watch for toys with long handles, such as miniature baseball kits with bats, since babies sometimes put these handles in their mouths and can choke on them.
* Avoid battery-operated toys for babies, since battery acid could leak and be ingested by the child.
* Watch out for any toy with a string longer than six inches since long strings can pose a strangulation hazard.
* Check to make that painted toysare lead-free.
* Avoid any riding toy that does not have a harness or that is labeled as appropriate for an older child.
* When purchasing used toys, check to make sure they are in good condition—no cracks or breaks that could result in injuries.