Category Archives: Toys

Watch Out for Choking Hazards in Toys and Clothing

The CPSC and Family Dollar Services Inc., of Matthews, N.C., have issued a recall announcement for Kidgets® Animal Sock Top Slippers. The slippers, made in China, have eyes that can become detached and pose a strangulation hazard to young children.

160,000 Kidgets® Animal Sock-Top Slippers have been sold by Family Dollar stores throughout the country, from September through October 2011 (160,000 in 2 months). The slippers cost just $5 and have brown or tan dog faces, yellow duck faces and tan lion faces on them. The name “Kidgets” and size of the slippers appear inside and on the soles. The number “FD9619108020690611” is printed inside the slippers on the side.

If you have purchased or been given these slippers for your child, remove them from the child’s access and return them to a Family Dollar store for a full refund. Consumers can also contact the company for more information at (800) 547-0359 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s website at To view a photo of the slippers being recalled, please visit:

Boy Scouts of America Recalls 5,400 Cub Scout Wind Tech Jackets due to strangulation hazards. The light-weight blue jackets in youth sizes for young boys are nylon with a polyester lining, have long-sleeves, a full zipper front and a Cub Scout wolf head emblem embroidered on the upper left front. SKU numbers 73291, 73292, and 73293 are printed on the hangtag that is attached to the jacket at retail.

The jackets were made in China, cost approximately $32 and were sold online at and at Boy Scouts of America retail outlets throughout the U.S. from November 2009 through July 2011. The hazard is the jackets have retractable cords with toggles at the hood/neck area and at the waist, which can pose a strangulation or entrapment hazard to children.

In February 1996, CPSC issued Guidelines to help prevent children from strangling or getting entangled on the neck and waist drawstrings in upper garments, such as jackets and sweatshirts. The Guidelines were incorporated into an industry standard in 1997, but clothing, frequently made in places other than the U.S., does not comply with the industry standard, so the burden falls to parents to watch out for jackets, “hoodies” and other clothing items which may have drawstrings or retractable cords at the waste or neck (or both).

To view a photo of the jackets, please visit the CPSC website for this recall: For additional information, contact the Boy Scouts of America toll-free at (855) 873-2408 anytime or visit the firm’s website at

Somehow it seems ironic that Boy Scouts of America is buying clothing from China to sell to parents of kids in America. It is a sign of the times, and parents need to be vigilant when it comes to toys and clothing for their kids this season!

Of Hexbugs and Buttons

It used to be that the end of Thanksgiving marked the beginning of the holiday season, but, as I was reminded by Jingle Bells blaring while shopping this weekend, it has now jumped to the day after Halloween. Hard to get into the holiday mood with the leaves still changing, but I guess the retailers need all the help they can get.  We at will try to get into the spirit with our first holiday season post.

This morning, I was replacing the batteries in one of my son’s favorite toys – Hexbugs. As I unscrewed the cover, I was disappointed to find it used a button battery. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, because they are so small that nothing else could probably fit. Still, it worried me that these tiny, shiny batteries are making it into more and more toys, because they are quite dangerous for children.

Last year, Marianne wrote a short piece cautioning parents and caregivers about these coin-sized (and smaller) batteries that power everything from watches to led flashlights to hearing aids. A recent study by Dr. Toby Litovitz of the National Capital Poison Control Center found “button battery-related incidents resulting in severe injury and fatality have increased sevenfold since 1985.” Data show that most choking incidents with button batteries involve children under the age of four. While a button battery, if swallowed, usually may pass through the intestine, the problem is not only the possibility of choking. If the battery becomes lodged in the throat or intestine, it can produce and release hydroxide and cause dangerous chemical burns.

So, with the holiday season approaching and family and friends purchasing gift toys and technology items that use these batteries, we are again raising the red flag on “button” batteries for parents and caregivers.

Here are some tips offered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and that parents and caregivers can use to make sure children do not unintentionally ingest button batteries:

· If you use button batteries at all, please make sure to dispose of them carefully.

· Do not allow children to play with button batteries, and keep button batteries out of your child’s reach.

· Check the toys your children receives over the holidays for the kinds of batteries that are used.

· Caution hearing aid users to keep hearing aids and batteries out of the reach of children.

· Never put button batteries in your or anyone else’s mouth for any reason as they are easily accidentally swallowed. You need to set an example for your children. (Some children think button batteries look like candy.)

· Always check medications before ingesting them. Adults have swallowed button batteries, too, mistaking them for pills or tablets.

· Keep remotes and other electronic gadgets out of your child’s reach if the battery compartments do not have a screw to secure them. Use tape to help secure the battery compartment.

· If a button battery is ingested, immediately seek medical attention. The National Battery Ingestion Hotline is available anytime at (202) 625-3333 (call collect if necessary), or call you’re the National Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222.

Meanwhile, from all of us at, have a safe and happy ramp-up to the holiday season!

Halloween Mask Recall is No Joke!

Halloween Mask Recall is No Joke!

October 26, 2011 — The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in conjunction with Target Inc. is recalling 3,400 children’s frog masks, saying “The plush frog masks lack proper ventilation. When secured in place across a child’s face, it presents a suffocation hazard to the child.”

The masks were manufactured in China and imported to the U.S. by Target Inc.

The masks are child-sized, frog-themed, plush animal face masks. The mask is green with yellow and red highlights, two eye cut-outs and a green elastic band. A fastener is used to secure the mask at the back of the child’s head.

UPC code 06626491474 is printed on a label attached to the mask. The masks were sold exclusively by Target stores nationwide from August 2011 through September 2011 for approximately $1.

Parents and caregivers should take masks away from young children immediately as the masks do not provide necessary ventilation. The CPSC suggests returning the product to any Target store for a full refund of a dollar–doubtless it would cost parents more than a dollar to mail or drive it to Target. Our recommendation is to take the mask away from children or their toy area, secure it in a black trash bag and put it out with the trash where and when it cannot be accessed by children. For additional information, consumers should call Target Guest Relations at (800) 440-0680 between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, or visit the firm’s website at

For a picture of this mask, please visit the CPSC website:

9,000 Disney Princess Plastic Trikes

9,000 Disney Princess Plastic Trikes have been recalled in the U.S. and 700 recalled in Canada by Kiddieland Toys, Ltd. and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Yes, they were manufactured in China (When did Disney give their name to products manufactured in China and where were we?)  The manufacturer is listed in the recall notice as: Kiddieland Toys Limited, of Scituate, Massachusetts, but the toys were imported from China.

The major hazard to a child who plays with these toys is the plastic castle display and the princess figures protruding from the top of the handle bar pose a laceration hazard if a child falls on the handle bar.

CPSC and Kiddieland received three reports thus far of children suffering facial lacerations.  The Disney Princess Trikes were sold at Target, JC Penney, Meijer and H.E.B. stores nationwide and on the web at from January 2009 through April 2011 for approximately $50.

The trikes are pink and fuchsia with a purple seat and wheels. On top of the handlebar is a rotating castle display surrounded by three princess figures. “Disney Princess” is printed on the label just below the handlebar.  A photo of the Disney Princess Trikes which are being recalled can be viewed at:

Consumers should immediately take the trikes away from children and contact Kiddieland for a free replacement handlebar with an enclosed rotating display by calling 1(800) 430-5307 anytime, or visiting the firm’s website is always fascinated by the fact that some basically unsafe toys slip under the wire of consumer protection and get on the market in the first place!  Whoever thought this one up should have taken a spin on the trike themselves first!

Recognizing Troubling Toys for Tots!

The day after Thanksgiving is well known as the biggest holiday shopping day of the year!  It’s a day when extreme sales are offered shoppers, some beginning in the wee hours of the morning! has learned that there are some troubling toys on the shelves and wants to alert you to the ones we already know about and make sure you know what to look for in safety features for your children’s toys.

As you and your family members shop for children’s toys, we hope you will evaluate the toys being marketed for children’s use carefully, purchasing only the toys which are prescribed for your children’s ages and skill levels–there are reasons some toys are designated for 5-year-olds and not for those under 3; many of those reasons are for children’s safety.

It is important for parents and those purchasing children’s toys to note whether a toy has any detachable part that could be swallowed, whether it is sharp or makes noises which are too loud, whether it functions as it should, whether it has inflatable balls or beads, contains lead paint or cadmium or antimony–all of these things have become important watch words to child safety in recent days.  If there are loose parts, hinges or seats, as in the case of some cribs, strollers, and high chairs, parents need to refrain from purchasing the childhood furniture.  Parents need to use their best judgment when purchasing toys for use by children.

Here are only a few toys listed on the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s ( ) website as having been recalled in the past year due to safety factors–Parents can also check for toys which have been recalled:  Any manufacturer’s) Children’s sweatshirts with hoods with drawstrings (strangulation hazard);

“Action Team” Toy Dart Gun set (choking hazard);

“Best Friends” Charm Bracelet Sets (high levels of cadmium, made in China);

“Big Rex and Friends” Cloth Books (high level of lead in the red dot in the book, imported from China);

“Fly Dragonfly” Remote Control Helicopters (Fire hazard–the battery in the helicopter can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards to a child; made in China for ImagineNation Books);

High Speed “Pull Back” Toy Cars (high level of lead in the paint on the toy; made in China imported to the U.S.);

2011 Model Year Giant Bicycles (the frame can crack at the union of the seat post and top tube posing a fall hazard to riders; made in Taiwan)

Allreds Design Baby Bracelets and Pacifier Clips (high levels of lead; made in Utah, U.S.A.)

There are more toys on the US PIRG list–and there is an entire report released November 23, 2010, the 25th Annual “Trouble in Toyland” Report in PDF format which can be downloaded and read by parents and those purchasing children’s toys this holiday season.

CNN’s T.J. Holmes also noted today that two children’s toys specifically were cited by the U.S. PIRG as “troubling” and they include the Dora, The Explorer™ Backpack and the Fisher-Price “Let’s Get Building” toy.  There are a variety of factors that parents should check about most toys on the market.  Noting where a toy was manufactured lately seems to have a bearing on its probable safe use by children. The United States’ standards are high when it comes to kids’ toys. And parents can report unsafe toys to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to help to keep the U.S. toy manufacturers’ standards high.  Visit to view recalled toys and learn how to report an unsafe toy.

If you, as a parent or caregiver, don’t think it looks safe for a child to use, it probably isn’t.  But even when you think it is safe, it’s best to check the toy thoroughly and monitor the child’s use of the toy if you do purchase it.

It’s Halloween… And there’s some scary stuff out here!

It may be true that we become more skeptical with age, but I was surprised after reading about a new threat to kids’ safety on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Health Beat website.  This is scary!

They’re small and green, but they’re not goblins– and they look like Tic-Tac™ candies. This recent threat to kids’ well being has just made its debut in the over-the-counter purchase-from-the drugstore category. is speaking of “Nicotine Tablets.” The tablets are flavored with mint or cinnamon and may look like breath mints or candy–and are supposed to aid those who wish to quit smoking by providing nicotine without tobacco smoke. (They also may be sold in a stick form and look like candy cigarettes.)

According to Greg Connolly of Harvard’s School of Public Health in a study published in the journal Pediatrics, if a one-year-old child would consume 10 of the candy-like pellets, “In all likelihood, they are going to have serious neurological problems.”

Apparently, both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are aware of these nicotine tablets. Now, let’s see if they make them “only available by prescription” to adults.

Meanwhile, if your kids go trick-or-treating on Halloween, please review their candy haul.  Ask them to bring the candy home before consuming it, so you can have a good look.


While we know it’s only just Halloween, people are saying scary things like, “There are only 57 shopping days until Christmas.” As parents, family members, and caregivers begin combing the stores for the best, safest toys, we had better be ready for what’s out there, do our homework, and know how to tackle this safe toy search!

Here are some tips suggested in a recent article by Elizabeth Pantley on buying safe toys for your baby:

  • When you purchase a child’s toy, no matter how bright you believe your little one, note the child’s age ranking on the box.  The age ranking is often there for a safety reason.
  • If a toy is painted, make sure it’s painted with non-toxic paint.
  • If toys have more than one piece, make sure to check for small, loose or detachable pieces that could become separated from the toy and be a choking hazard.
  • Check all children’s toys you purchase for any rough, jagged, or sharp edges, and rusted or broken parts. You can report those toys to the store’s manager. (Managers usually have the power to send faulty products back to the distributors.)
  • Safely pitch any plastic wrapping on children’s toys long before the holidays. Wrap toys in colorful paper yourself.
  • For babies, avoid pull toys with long cords.
  • Never give babies balloon-type toys or toys with inflatable balls which could burst or break off from the toy and become lodged in the throat.
  • If your baby has a toy box in his or her room, make sure it has a safety lid or no lid at all to avoid pinched fingers or hands, or entrapment of the child.

Let’s make childhood less scary and more safe for our kids!


With appreciation to DHHS HealthBeat website, posting by Ira Dreyfuss, October 29, 2010, and

Just the Facts, Baby’s posting by Elizabeth Pantley, “The Safest Toys for Your Baby”, October 6, 2010.

It’s Christmas Time Again – Safe Toys for All Those Good Little Girls and Boys

I’m not sure how it’s the holiday season again, because it seems like it just ended yesterday.  I am particularly distressed about how Christmas continues to invade  November – this year, here in Charlottesville, the town lit its Christmas tree before Thanksgiving.  Despite all we are hearing about the economy, the retail chaos has started.  Money is tight for a lot of people, and this naturally leads people to purchase less expensive toys for their kids.  Unfortunately, it is usually the cheaper toys that are poorly designed and poorly made.  Parents should be vigilant in inspecting all toys bought for or given to their children.

But it’s important that parents know what to look for.  In that vein, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) has recently released their 24th annual report on toy safety entitled “Trouble in Toyland” which draws attention to toys which might present a danger to children.  USPIRG’s report divides “dangerous” toys into 16 different categories, including toys that are too noisy and may endanger children’s hearing, toys with small or detachable parts that could be accidentally swallowed, and toys that may contain potentially toxic chemicals (lead and phthalates), to name only a few.

And a really cool feature – they also has an interactive smart phone website: to aid shoppers in avoiding already-known toy hazards and to report potential dangers.  So, if you have a question about a toy while your shopping, you can access this site and get an immediate answer.

A recent CNN “American Morning” show examined several toys which were identified in the USPIRG report as containing potential hazards to children, such as the “Real Wood Shape Sorter Barn” made by P&C, which had a toy part on the side of the barn that could be a choking hazard to a child.  Also, Kota and Pals Stompers Triceratops made by Playskool was identified as a toy potentially too noisy for children’s ears.  Hasbro, the parent company of Playskool, indicated, however, that this particular “toy complies with all sound requirements” answering USPIRG’s concern. A toy identified as potentially toxic to children is “The Elmo Lunch Bag” made by Fast Forward, New York.

A variety of different child safety resources all generally agree on how best to protect kids from potentially dangerous toys.  Here are some tips on toys and toy shopping for your child’s safety:

  • Keep toys with tiny parts away from children younger than 3 years old. These toys and their parts are choking hazards for infants and toddlers.
  • If you purchase a toy a child can ride (tricycle, bicycle, scooter, etc.), remember helmets are important and necessary for the safety of your child when using these toys and should accompany their purchase.
  • If you use a shopping cart of any kind, make sure your child remains seated and secured with a seat belt. And watch little hands carefully when you are at the check-out counter!
  • When shopping for toys, take into consideration a child’s age, interests and abilities. A “grown-up” toy in a child’s hands can be boring, frustrating , and sometimes dangerous.
  • Whether you shop at a mall toy shop or at a large distributor, or thrift or second-hand store, check  or  to make sure children’s toys and products haven’t been previously recalled for safety reasons.

Have a happy and safe holiday!

Toy Safety Organization Releases Its Annual Top 10 Worst Toys

Just in time for Christmas, an organization called W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm) has released its annual list of the top 10 worst toys.  What amazes me is that all of the hazards here have long been established — choking hazards, projectiles that can damage eyes, etc – yet these dangerous toys still reach the market.  There is no approval or evaluation process by any government agency for toys – the CPSC only steps in when a problem is identified.  Please go to the next page for the list.

Click here for a list of the worst toys of all time (complete with Lawn Darts).  These would be funny if not for the fact that each of these put thousands of kids needlessly at risk.
Animal Alley Purse Pet
Ninja Battle Gear – Michelangelo
Walk’n Sounds Digger The Dog
Pucci Puppies – My Own Puppy House Golden Retriever
Meadow Mystery Play-A-Sound Book With A Cuddly Pooh
Inflatable Giga Ball
Spider-Man Adjustable Toy Skates
Sportsman Shotgun
Extreme Spiral Copters
Go Go Minis Pullback Vehicle

Parents — Check Your Window Blinds – Recalls of Blinds Made by Ikea and Green Mountain Vista

Some hazards are obviously dangerous to kids – the Drano under the sink, a pot of boiling water on the stove, or a car backing out of the driveway.  Those are things we as parents intuitively know can be dangerous to our kids, so we take precautions such as cabinet locks and stove guards to protect them. 

Not all hazards are so obvious, but they can be just as dangerous.  Window blinds are a great example.  They seem innocent enough, and it certainly doesn’t seem like a child could hurt himself (or herself) if left alone with one.  Yet, the cords on certain window blinds can present a serious strangulation hazard to young children.  Over the years, hundreds of boys and girls have been seriously injured and even killed by becoming entangled and then strangled by window blind cords.

On Thursday, the CPSC issued two recall alerts.  Popular furniture maker IKEA is recalling its IRIS and ALVINE Roman Blinds, and Green Mountain Vista Inc of Williston, Vt. is recalling its Insulated Black-Out Roller Shades and Insulated Roman Shades. This past April, a one year old girl in Greenwich, Ct.tragically died as a result of strangulation by the cord of an IKEA blind.  She was found in her playpen with the cord from a nearby fully lowered blind wrapped twice around her neck.  This past June, a two year old girl from Bristol, Ct, was nearly strangled by a Green Mountain Vista blind when she placed a cord loop around her neck and then fell.  Luckily, she was saved by her brother.

The IKEA shades were sold at its stores nationwide for between $7 and $30 from July 2005 through June 2008.  The Green Mountain Vista shades were sold nationwide for between $60 and $200 at the following stores:, Plow & Hearth, Country
Curtain Shop of Maine,
Sturbridge, Yankee
Workshop, Ann & Hope,
The Linen Source, Solutions Catalog, and The Sportsman’s Guide.

IKEA’s recall states that users should return the blinds to one of its stores for a full refund.  Green Mountain says that users should check their blinds to see if the tensioning device is still attached.  If it’s not, they should contact Green Mountain Vista at (800) 639- 1728 or go to its website.

For window blind safety, I found a great site — the Window Covering Safety Council.  I highly recommend checking out this site and then checking your window coverings.  Here are basic safety tips from their website:

Install only cordless window coverings in young children’s bedrooms and sleeping areas. Replace window blinds, corded shades and draperies manufactured before 2001 with today’s safer products

Move all cribs, beds, furniture and toys away from windows and window cords, preferably to another wall

Keep all window pull cords and inner lift cords out of the reach of children. Make sure that tasseled pull cords are short and continuous-loop cords are permanently anchored to the floor or wall. Make sure cord stops are properly installed and adjusted to limit movement of inner lift cords

Lock cords into position whenever horizontal blinds or shades are lowered, including when they come to rest on a windowsill.

If you have any questions or need more information, please email Bryan Slaughter.