Parents: Educate Yourselves about Toy Safety and Recalls

Parents have legitimate reasons to worry about dangerous or defective automobiles, child safety seats and so many other products which come into contact with their kids. Unfortunately, parents need to be cautious even with the very dolls, toy trucks and building blocks that bring their children so much joy. Toy recalls occur much more frequently than any parent would prefer. However, there are ways that parents can educate themselves about dangerous and defective toys which have found their ways into the marketplace.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is the federal body responsible for recalling potentially hazardous toys. The CPSC lists every toy that is recalled on its website. From 2006 to 2008, the CPSC recalled 38, 82 and 32 toys, respectively. Most recalled toys put children at risk for lead exposure, burns and choking.

High levels of lead in a child’s bloodstream can have serious health consequences. In 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed to limit the amount of lead in toys and other children’s products. The number of recalls for children’s products manufactured in the United States has diminished as a result.

However, approximately 80 percent of all toys are manufactured in China, where toys containing high lead concentrations are regularly produced. In 2007, Mattel issued a recall of 1.5 million infant Fisher-Price toys manufactured in China. A subsequent recall of nine million toys included the popular Barbie and Polly Pocket toys due to the presence of lead paint and small magnets that constituted a choking hazard. These and other similar recalls re-enforce some of the reasons why many American officials remain wary of Chinese-made products.

Parents are advised to stay informed about toy recalls and to purchase toys that are age/developmentally appropriate for their children. Small children who are given small objects or pieces are prone to swallow them. Toys that are brightly colored or painted might contain lead, although most American-made toys, if consumers can find them, are manufactured using lead-free paint.

In addition to the CPSC website, other resources exist for parents who want to ensure that their children’s toys are safe. Newspapers, Internet sites and parenting magazines regularly list or report on recalls and on which toys have been tested and deemed safe for children to use at certain ages or developmental stages. Though it is impossible for parents to ensure the absolute safety of their children, staying informed about toy recalls and which toys are safe for kids at various ages and stages can certainly help.