Tag Archives: holiday safe toys

Holiday Toy Safety

This week, holiday toy catalogs are loading up mailboxes throughout the country. Having reviewed several of them and the toys they advertise with mixed feelings, I believe parents, caregivers and family members need to watch out for some unsafe toys on the market this season.

There are brightly colored, attractive plastic toys–sold under reputable brand names that bear little or no warnings about having possibly detachable parts. And it’s not only children’s toys to watch out for: Adult desk toys can easily get into the hands of little ones and sometimes contain magnets or small balls. There are quite a number of toys that look cool but could create dangers for young children. If you think a toy could be unsafe, it probably is. Some toys which are okay for older children can create trouble for a little one, such as toys with small parts or balls that could get lodged in a throat or windpipe, toys that use heat or electricity to run them, or contain chemicals, or coins. If there are toddlers in the home, you can expect them to be curious, so you need think about the safety of the entire family when purchasing toys.

Many people not only buy toys for their own children but often for the children of friends and relatives. One helpful hint when buying toys for other children is to contact their parents to learn what they already have in their toy chest and, not only what they like, but what type of toy their parents would approve of them receiving. Beyond the type of toy, parents also need to think about what children are ready to play with–stretching a child’s capabilities can be good, but giving a child a toy that is far beyond the level of their hand-eye coordination, for example, or for which they have not reached a certain level of learning could create a safety disaster as well as disappointment.

For young children, toys to avoid are toys with sharp edges, small detachable parts, “bucky” balls, small magnets, attachments, or batteries that can be swallowed, and toys with lead paint or that contain toxic materials. Plush toys that are too big for small children and toys with plastic or rubber masks also present the danger of suffocation, and they are on the market. KidsHealth from Nemours[1][1] suggests the following when going to purchase toys:

  • If purchasing toys made of fabric, they should be labeled as flame resistant or flame retardant;
  • Stuffed toys need to be washable;
  • Toys that are painted need to be painted with lead-free, non-toxic paint;
  • Art supplies need to be labeled “non-toxic”;
  • Crayons and paints should say “ASTM D-4236 on the package which means they have been evaluated by the American Society for Testing and Materials;
  • Avoid older toys which are hand-me-downs, or worn out toys that can break and become hazardous;
  • Make sure if a toy makes sounds that the sounds are not too loud for your child–especially when a little one holds it close to their ears!

We hope these hints are helpful to you as you shop for safe toys this season!

Toy Safety This Holiday Season

Did you know that most toy purchases take place each year from Thanksgiving to Christmas? SafeKids encourages parents to educate themselves and offers the following safety tips for purchasing toys:

  • When purchasing toys for children, consider their ages and skill levels. Most toys have an age specification on the packaging, such as “For 3+” or “Not for Under 3 Years.”
  • Make certain toys for older kids are stored separately from those for younger children. Older children might receive toys with small, detachable parts, but are unlikely to put the parts in their mouths.
  • Make sure toys with small, detachable parts are kept away from children under 3 years old. Small, detachable parts are choking hazards.
  • Check the toys your children have for any damage or breakage that could cause injury.
  • Always supervise young children playing with toys that are battery-powered, electric, or operated by remote control. This season, particularly, watch out for toys that fly and toys that climb walls and can fall on children.
  • Always supervise young children playing with toys that have small balls, strings, small parts or contain magnets.
  • Always supervise children playing with any kind of riding toy or toys that might create a fall hazard, such as trampolines, swings or pogo-sticks or toys that resemble those. If you are thinking about purchasing a toy with wheels, you may also want to get a helmet to go with it.
  • Remember: According to SafeKids, active supervision means keeping children within sight and reach while paying undivided attention to them as they play.

And, as always, parents should stay informed about any unsafe toy products on the market by checking the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall website at http://www.recalls.gov and by checking in with us at http://www.ChildSafetyBlog.org.

Best wishes for a safe and happy ramp-up to this season of holiday gift-giving!

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. Childsafetyblog.org 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.

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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!

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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.